India Makes Crucial Amendment to 30-Year-Old Anti-Corruption Law
2018-09-27 17:22 Thursday
India has long been plagued by corruption. According to the Corruption Perceptions Index 2017 from Transparency International, India ranked 81st with the score of 40, a mediocre ranking that continues to hinder economic growth and development.
On July 24, 2018, the Parliament of India passed the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Act, 2018, the first revision since the original was introduced in 1988, demonstrating the Indian government's determination to crackdown on pervasive corruption.
The main amendments in the new law change the following:
1. Redefines the term "undue advantage" to mean any gratification other than legal remuneration. The term "gratification" has been clarified to include all forms of gratifications that can be measured in money, or pecuniary gratification. The term "legal remuneration" has also been clarified to include all remuneration a public servant is permitted to receive from the relevant authority.
2. Mandates time limit for trying of corruption cases, as a means to prevent judges in India from delaying proceedings. The new act requires judges to complete trials within two years from the date that the corruption case has been filed. A trial can now be extended by six months at a time for up to a maximum of four years.
3. Harsher criminal penalties. The old law mandated prison terms ranging from three months to seven years, as well as fines. The amended law increases the prison term to a minimum of five years to a maximum of ten years along, while preserving fines.
4. Clarifies the subjects of the law, which are, commercial organizations and individuals associated with commercial organizations. The term commercial organization includes all forms of business structure and the phrase "persons associated with commercial organization" is wide enough to encompass employees and vendors.
Despite these promising reforms, many professionals remain on the fence about the outlook for anti-corruption enforcement in India. Political analysts have noted that India has never lacked anti-corruption legislation, nor sufficient enforcement mechanisms and penalties for corruption. This new act does not specify fines for those convicted for corruption-related offenses, and it remains to be seen whether the overall situation will improve, as the criminal justice system in India has been infiltrated by corrupt actors in the past.