The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 was enacted on 9th September, 1988. The act was drafted inorder to prevent corruption in public sector and controlling it through deterrence in the nature of punishment laid under the provisions of the Act.
The act defines public servant as any person in employment for the government in lieu of remuneration or pay. The public servant shall discharge public duty i.e. duty discharged in the interest of public.
The State government shall appoint special judges to try offences committed under the provisions of the Act after notifying in official gazette. No person who has not held posts of Sessions Judge or an Additional Sessions Judge or an Assistant Sessions Judge under Code of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 shall be eligible to be appointed as special judge. The state government shall specify jurisdiction of special judges so appointed within which they shall try cases. The special judges shall try all offence committed under the provisions of the Act along with any other connected offence committed under Code of Criminal Procedure. The Act lays provisions for day to day trial for offences committed under the Act.
Section 5 of the Act lays powers and procedures to be followed by special judge. Special Judge shall try cases in consonance with provisions of Cr.P.C. The powers of special judge while discharging functions under provisions of the Act shall be similar to that of District Judge under Criminal Law Amendment Ordinance, 1944. Section 6 of the Act lays such certain cases where special judge shall try cases summarily. Session judge shall try summarily cases falling under Essential Commodities Act, 1955. There shall be no appeal against cases tried summarily by session judges where sentence passed is not more than one month imprisonment or fine not exceeding one thousand rupees.
Section 7 to section 16 deals with offences and penalties, section 7 of the act lays punishment for illegal gratification other than legal remittance obtained or attempted to be obtained by public servant in lieu of official discharge of duties. Such person shall be punished with imprisonment extending to five years which shall not be less than six months along-with fine. The act also includes public servants who are expecting to hold a public office and thereby obtains illegal gratification. The gratification demanded shall be illegal other than legal remuneration. The act lays punishments for acts wherein illegal gratification is asked to influence public servant; instance where public servant abets an offence punishable under the act; obtaining valuable thing as consideration in lieu of completion of public work apart from these act also lays punishment for abetment of acts above mentioned. Punishment for offences committed under section 7 to section 12 shall not exceed five years and shall not be less than six months along with payment of fine.
Section 13 of the act lays punishment for criminal misconduct committed by public servant. Criminal misconduct shall include habitual acceptance of illegal remuneration or gratification; attempt to obtain illegal gratification, fraudulent conversion of public property or money for personal gains, abuses or misuses public position, obtains pecuniary advantage in official capacity for himself or for another person, is in possession of property disproportionate to his known sources of income. Any public officer habitual of criminal misconduct shall be punishable with imprisonment which shall not be less than one year and extend up to seven years along with fine. Act also lays punishment for habitual offenders. Person who attempts to commit an offence under section 13 shall be punished with imprisonment extending to three years and with fine.
No public servant shall be tried for offences under the provisions of the Act unless sanction of the concerned department is taken as mandated under section 19 of the Act. Accused person shall be a competent person to give evidence while trial of cases. The act is not made applicable to offences of similar nature committed by naval, military or air force officials.
Thus the act is an effort to control the offence of corruption by laying stringent provisions against persons who are found guilty of corruption.
by Vibhuti Nakta.