NEW DELHI: In a first, a new Bill proposed by a Parliamentary Committee has recommended that seeking “sexual favour” be considered as bribe and people be penalised for it. In its report on a new anti-corruption Bill, the Select Committee of Rajya Sabha has relied on the Law Commission’s report and recommended inclusion of undue advantage in a relevant provision of the proposed legislation to cover any gratification other than legal remuneration, including sexual favours, to explain offence relating to public servant being bribed. It also suggested punishment for bribe givers.
At present, cases of graft are covered under Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
In a bid to enlarge the definition of taking bribe and cover private sector bribery, the government has decided to introduce the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013, which is pending. The term used in the Bill to define bribery-related offences was financial or other advantage.
In November last, official amendments were moved to replace the term “financial or other advantage” with “undue advantage” to make “any gratification other than legal remuneration” punishable. The Committee apprehends that enforcement or probe agencies may misuse the expression to harass public servants as well as members of civil society in corruption cases and advises that adequate precautions be taken in this regard.
“The Committee, however, notes that the Law Commission of India in its Two Hundred and Fifty-fourth Report (Feb, 2015) has suggested to use the expressions ‘undue advantage’ in the PC Act. The Committee endorses the aforesaid amendments proposed to Section 2 of the PC Act, 1988, under the clause,” it read.
“For example, it clearly covers sexual favours as ‘gratification’ in return for the public servant to do/refrain from doing a certain act. However, “other advantage” in “financial or other advantage” being interpreted using ejusdem generis (of or as the same kind) does not seem to cover sexual favours in return for the public servant’s acts or omissions.
“Thus, the proposed amendment is actually narrowing the scope of corruption,” it said.