Centre’s new anti-corruption guidelines enforced in J&K; bribe giver an accused
Timeline of 2 years for decision of cases
Commercial organizations also under ambit
JAMMU: To ensure stringent implementation of anti-corruption norms in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, the Central Government has issued significant guidelines to the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) and the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) in which timeline has been fixed for decision of the case while bribe givers will also be made accused unless they come out themselves with compelling circumstances within a week to justify reasons for paying corruption to the officers.
The new guidelines have been implemented with immediate effect by all the anti-graft bodies including the CBI and the ACB, official sources told the Excelsior and said implementation of new provisions against the corrupt persons was possible due to conversions of Jammu and Kashmir into a Union Territory as the erstwhile State enjoyed special provisions which now have been scrapped.
The guidelines were already implemented in other States and Union Territories of the country.
Quite significant is the decision to make bribe giver as an accused in the Prevention of Corruption Act unless he spells out compelling reasons to the investigating agency within a week for paying corruption to the officers. The step, according to sources, will go a long way in discouraging the practice of payment of commission to the Government officers/officials as; hitherto, there was no provisions before the investigating agencies to take action against the bribe givers, who used to go scot free.
The bribe givers can be punished with a jail term of seven years under the law. Bribe givers were not covered in any of the domestic legislations to check corruption so far.
Union Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Dr Jitendra Singh, Incharge Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) told the Excelsior that implementation of new guidelines in Jammu and Kashmir was part of Narendra Modi Government’s zero tolerance towards corruption.
“With time-bound decision on the case within two years, action against the corrupt officials, if found guilty, will be decided expeditiously. At the same time, it will also be beneficial for the officers/officials against whom charges of corruption are not proved as they will be free of agony within two years,” Dr Jitendra Singh said.
According to sources, the DoPT has implemented new guidelines against corruption in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir which were applicable across the country barring the erstwhile State of J&K where they couldn’t be enforced in view of special status, which was abrogated by the Central Government on August 5 paving the way for implementation of all Central provisions.
Elaborating, sources said, the persons who are being coerced and compelled to pay corruption by the Government officers/officials and sounded the anti-graft bodies to lay trap for the corrupt officials will not fall in the category of bribe givers as they are helping the investigating agencies to catch the corrupt.
Further, they added, if the bribe giver appeared before the investigating agency within a week and gives “compelling circumstances” under which he had to pay bribe to the Government officer/official, he will be exempted from the category of bribe giver.
All other bribe givers will fall in the category of accused as per the new provisions and guidelines implemented in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, sources said.
The new guidelines have set a two year deadline to decide on corruption cases.
“Timeline of two years within which a corruption case has to be decided will also help in timely decision on cases as earlier it was being observed that some cases took quite long time and even some of the accused in the cases had passed away during the investigations,” sources said.
Further, they added, the new provisions were also aimed at protecting interests of genuine officers as it takes years to get them acquitted from the cases earlier. Now with timeline of two years fixed for decision of the cases, the genuine officers/officials will come clean in two years and resume their services.
However, according to sources, there was a provision for extension in timeline for decision of the case beyond two years but for that again “compelling circumstances” will have to be given.
Sources said the new guidelines against corruption have been enforced in Jammu and Kashmir by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) in consultations with the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.
The anti-graft bodies have been directed to strictly follow the new guidelines.
For bribe takers, the new guidelines have increased the punishment to a minimum of three years of imprisonment, which may extend to seven years, besides fine.
The new guidelines have also included commercial organizations into the ambit of the Act.
“A commercial organization shall be guilty of an offence and punishable with fine if any person associated with the commercial organizations, gives or promises to give, any undue advantage to a public servant,” said the new guidelines.