NEW DELHI: A senior government official on Sunday said that seeking and accepting sexual favours could be considered a crime under the new anti-corruption law and persons convicted of this crime could be jailed for up to seven years. The Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Act, 2018 has the umbrella term ‘undue advantage’, which means any gratification other than legal remuneration and also includes expensive club memberships and hospitality, the official explained.
The word ‘gratification’ is not limited to pecuniary gratifications or to gratifications estimable in money, says the amended anti-corruption law. The 2018 law amends the 30-year-old Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, that covers instances of corruption by public servants.
“Under the amended law, investigating agencies like the CBI can now book officials for seeking and accepting sexual favours, expensive club memberships and hospitality or for providing employment to close friends or relatives among others,” the official said. It also has the provision to punish bribe givers with a jail term of maximum of seven years. Before this, bribe givers were not covered in any domestic legislation to check corruption. Senior Supreme Court lawyer G Venkatesh Rao said the term ‘undue advantage’ could mean any favours which are non-monetary, like expensive gifts or any kind of freebies, giving a free holiday or payment of airline tickets and stay.
“It would also encompass payments for any goods and services deliverable any other commercial entity too, like down payments for the purchase of property or movables and or payments towards memberships of clubs etc. It also includes more specifically sexual favours, which is the most reprehensible of all expectations,” Rao said.
Five years ago, the government introduced the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013 to expand the definition of bribery and to cover graft in the private sector. The term used to define bribery related offences then was ‘financial or other advantage’.