Prevention Of Corruption Act,1988: Overview
"If we cannot make India corruption-free, then the vision of making the nation develop by 2020 would remain as a dream." - Dr. A.P.J.Abdul Kalam
Corruption is considered to be one of the greatest impediments on the way towards progress for developing country like India. The economic, social and cultural structure of our country is very strong; however, due to the menace called- Corruption, it has been adversely affected and has become defenseless against the forces of anti-social elements.
According to Shri N.Vittal, Former Chief Vigilance Commissioner, the first stage in the dynamics of the rule of law is the framing of effective rules and laws, which are equipped to hinder the ever-rising escalation of the corruption graph. It is in this context that the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 becomes highly significant.
The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (henceforth referred to as PCA) came into force on 9th September, 1988. it incorporated the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947, the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1952, and sec. 161 to 165-A of the Indian Penal Code with modifications, enlarged the scope of the definition of the expression 'Public Servant' and amended the Criminal Law Amendment Ordinanc,k1944. The PCA, 1988l, thereby widened the coverage, strengthened the provisions and made them more effective.
The Prevention Of Corruption Act, 1988:-
The most important definitions are that of :
- Public duty
- Public servant
1) Public Duty: It means a duty that is dine for the benefit of the State, the public or the
community at a large. It this context, State would mean:
a) A corporation established by or under a Central, Provincial or State Act.
b) An authority or a body owned controlled or aided by the Government company as defined in Sec. 617 of the Companies Act,1956.
2) Public Servant: It is unique term in Anti-corruption law, being the deciding factor at the threshold, of one's liability, depending on his being public servant. The term 'Public Servant' was not defined under the PCA, 1947 and the Act adopted the definition of the term under sec. 21 of the Indian Penal Code. The PCA of 1988 provides a wider definition in the Act itself under clause (c) of sec. 2. the following are the salient aspects of the new definition:
a) Under cl (c) of Sec.2 of the PC, the emphasis is on public duty and not on the Authority remunerating.
b) The definition is enlarged so as to include the office-bearers of the registered co-operative societies receiving any financial aid from the Government, or from a Government corporation or company, the employees of universities, public service commissions and banks etc.
The following genres of persons fall within the ambit of 'public servant':
a) Any person who is paid by the government or local authority or remunerated by way of fees or commission for the performance of or is in the service of a corporation established by or under a Central, Provincial or State Act, or an authority or body owned or controlled or aided by the Government company as defined in the Companies Act, 1956.
b) Any Judge or any person authorized by a court of justice to perform any duty, in connection with the administration of justice or any arbitrator to whom any cause or matter has been referred for decision or report by a court of justice or report by a court of justice or by a competent public authority.
c) Any person who holds an office result to which he is empowered to prepare, publish maintain or revise an electoral roll or to conduct an election or part of an election, or is authorized or required to perform any public duty.
d) Any person who is the president, secretary or other office bearer of a registered co-operative society engaged in agriculture, industry, trade or banking, receiving or having received any financial aid from the Central or State Government or any authority or body owned, controlled or aided by Government or Government company as defined in Sec. 617 of the Companies Act, 1956.
e) Any person who is a chairman, member or employee of any service commission or Board or a member of any selection committee appointed by such Commission or Board for the conduct of any examination or making any selection on their behalf.
f) Any person who is the Vice-Chancellor or member of any governing body, professor, reader or lecturer of any University and any person whose services have been availed of by a University.
g) An office-bearer or an employee of an educational, scientific, social, cultural or other institution receiving or having received any financial assistance from the Central or State government or local or other public authority.
Explanation 1 states that it is immaterial whether the person falling within the periphery of the above clauses is appointed by Government or not.
Explanation 2 states that a person who is actually holding the position of the situation of public servant irrespective of the fact that he might not have th3e right to hold that situation shall be deemed to be 'public servant'.
B] Power To Appoint Special Judges:
The Central and the State Government is empowered to appoint Special Judges by placing a Notification in the Official Gazette, to try the following offences:
· Any offence punishable under this Act.
· Any conspiracy to commit or any attempt to commit or any abetment of any of the offences specified under the Act.
The qualification for the Special Judge is that he should be or should have been a Session Judge or an Additional Session Judge or Assistant Session Judge under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973
C] Case Trial By Special Judges:
Every offence mentioned in Section 3(1)shall be tried by the Special Judge for the area within which it was committed. When trying any case, a Special Judge may also try any offence other than what is specified in S. 3, which the accused may be, under Cr.P.C. be charged at the same trial. The Special Judge has to hold the trial of an offence on day-to-day basis. However, while complying with foretasted, it is to be seen that the Cr.P.C. is not bifurcated.
D] Power And Functions Of Special Judges:
The following are the powers of the Special Judge:
He may take cognizance of the offences without the accussed being commissioned to him for trial. In trying the accussed persons, shall follow the procedure prescribed by the Cr.P.C. for the trial of warrant cases by Magistrate. he may with a view to obtain the evidence of any person supposed to have been directly or indirectly concered in or privy to an offence, tender pardon to such person provided that he would make full and true disclosure of the whole circumstances within his knowledge or in respect to any person related to the offence.
Except as for S. 2(1), the provisions of Cr.P.C. shall apply to the proceedings before a Special Judge. Hence, the court of the Special Judge shall be deemed to be a Court of Session and the person conducting a prosecution before a Special Judge shall be deemed to be a public prosecutor.
The provisions of secs. 326 and 475of the Cr.P.C. shall apply to the proceedings before a Special Judge and for purpose of the said provisions, a Special Judge shall be deemed to be a magistrate.
A Special Judge may pass a sentence authorized by law for the punishment of the offence of which a person is convicted.
A Special Judge, while trying any offence punishable under the Act, shall exercise all powers and functions exercised by a District Judge under the Criminal Law Amendment Ordinance,1944.
Power to try summarily: Where a Special Judge tries any offence specified in Sec. 3(1), aleged to have been committed by a public servanet in relation to the contravention of any special order referred to in Sec.12-A(1) of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 or all orders referred to in sub-section (2)(a) of that section then the special judge shall try the offence in a summarily way and the provisions of s. 262 to 265 (both inclusive) of the said code shall as far as may be apply to such trial. Provided that in the case of any conviction in a summary trial under this section this shall be lawful for the Special Judge to pass a sentence of imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year. However, when at the commencement of or in the course of a summary trial it appears to the Special Judge that the nature of the case is such that a sentence of imprisonment for a term exceeding one year may have to be passed or it is undesirable to try the case summarily, the Special judge shall record all order to that effect and thereafter recall any witnesses who may have been examined and proceed to hear and re-hear the case in accordance with the procedure prescribed by the said code for the trial of warrant cases by Magistrates. Moreover, there shall be no appeal by a convicted person in any case tried summarily under this section in which the Special Judge passes a sentence of imprisonment not exceeding one month and of fine not exceeding Rs. 2000.
E] Offences And Penalties:
The following are the offences under the PCA along with their punishments:-
Taking gratification other than legal remuneration in respect of an official act, and if the public servant is found guilty shall be punishable with imprisonment which shall be not less than 6 months but which may extend to 5 years and shall also be liable to fine.
· Taking gratification in order to influence public servant, by corrupt or illegal means, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall be not less than six months but which may extend to five years and shall also be liable to fine.
· Taking gratification, for exercise of personal influence with public servant shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall be not less than six months but which may extend to five years and shall also be liable to fine.
· Abetment by public servant of offences defined in Section 8 or 9, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall be not les than six months but which may extend to five years and shall also be liable to fine.
· Public servant obtaining valuable thing without consideration from person concerned in proceeding or business transacted by such public servant, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall be not les than six months but which may extend to five years and shall also be liable to fine.
· Punishment for abetment of offences defined in Section 7 or 11 shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall be not less that six months but which may extend to five years and shall also be liable to fine.
· Any public servant, who commits criminal misconduct shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall be not less than one year but which may extend to 7 years and shall also be liable to fine.
· Habitual committing of offence under Section 8, 9 and 12 shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall be not less than two years but which may extend to 7 years and shall also be liable to fine.
F] Matters To Be Taken Into Consideration For Fixing Fine:
Where a sentence of fine is imposed under sec. 13(2) and sec. 14, the court while fixing the amount for the same shall consider the amount or te value of the property which the accussed has obtained by committing the offence or where the conviction is for an offence referred to in sec. 13(1)(e), the pecuniary resource or property for which the accussed is unable to account satisfactorily.
Investigation shall be done by a police officer not below the rank of:
a] Incase of Delhi, of an Inspector of Police.
b] In metropolitan areas, of an Assistant Commissioner of Police.
c] Elsewhere, of a Deputy Superintendent of Police or an officer of equivalent rank shall investigate any offence punishable under this Act without the order of a Metropolitan Magistrate or a magistrate of first class, or make any arrest therefore without a warrant.
If a police officer no below the rank of an Inspector of Police is authorized by the State Government in this behalf by general or special order, he may investigate such offence without the order of a Metropolitan Magistrate or Magistrate of First class or make arrest therefor without a warrant.
H] Previous Sanctions:
Previous sanction is required in following cases:
When an offence is punishable under secs. 7, 10, 11, 13 and 15 of the Act.
In case of a person who is employed in connection with the affiars of the Union or State and is not removable from his ofice save by or with the sanction of the Central or State Government as the case may be. In case of any other person, of authority competent to remove him from his office.
Previous sanction is required, if the court feels that a failure has occured in the administration of justice, to do the following:
reversal or alteration by the Court of Appeal of any findings, or any sentence or order passed by a Special Judge. stay the proceedings on the ground of error, omission or irregularity. revision of any interlocutory order passed in inquiry, trial, appeal or proceedings.
I] Accused: A Competent Witness:
Any person charged with an offence punishable under this Act, shall be a competent witness for the defense and may give evidence on oath in disproof of the charges made against him or any person charged together with him at the same trial:
(a) He shall not be called as a witness except at his own request;
(b) His failure to give evidence shall not be made the subject of any comment by the prosecution or give rise to any presumption against himself or any person charged together with him at the same trial;
(c) He shall not be asked, and if asked shall not be required to answer, any question tending to show that he has committed or been convicted of any offence other than the offence with which he is charged, or is of bad character, unless-
(i) The proof that he has committed or been convicted of such offence is admissible evidence to show that he is guilty of the offence with which he is charged, or
(ii) He has personally or by his pleader asked any question of any witness for the prosecution with a view to establish his own good character, or has given evidence of his good character, or the nature or conduct of the defense is such as to involve amputations on the character of the prosecutor or of any witness for the prosecution, or
(iii) He has given evidence against any other person charged with the same offence.
J] Appeal And Revision:
The High Court has given all power of appeal and revision that are provided to it through Cr.P.C. as if the Court of Special Judge were a Court of Session trying cases within the local limits of the High Court.
Corruption is a termite that is eating up the pith of our society it not only hampers the individual's growth but also the collective growth of our Country. Hence, it stands highly imperative to control and then stop this growing menace and in this case the Prevention of Corruption Act,1988 comes to our aid. In fact, the Act has been beautifully drafted, however, a huge power has been vested in the hands of the Central and State Government in form of appointment of Special Judges, providing sanctions etc. Hence the Act would become oblivious if the matter in question is related to Central or State Governments.
The PCA despite of this lacunae is a very powerful Act which needs proper implementation in order to curb corruption from grass root-level.
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