Govt servants may get 'shield' from prosecution, agencies will need approval to probe
All government servants may get a 'shield' from prosecution as the Centre has okayed changes in the Prevention of Corruption Act to make it mandatory for investigating agencies like CBI to take its prior approval before initiating an investigationagainst them.
Union minister of state for personnel Jitendra Singh on Thursday said the purpose behind mandating prosecution sanction for government officers under the anti-graft law was to protect honest officers.
"We have decided to introduce the anti-corruption amendment bill in winter session of Parliament starting on November 16. A provision for safeguarding all categories of government employees is being offered in the Bill. The changes are to ensure that honest employees are not harassed," said Singh.
The MoS told reporters here that the decision was necessary as the government wanted to ensure that the bureaucracy, 'an essential tool of good governance,' continued to work without any fear or favour.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had recently said that the government's job is to ensure safety of honest employees.
The latest move is based on the recommendation by a parliamentary committee favouring a shield of prior prosecution sanction for public servants by making it a mandatory condition for probe agencies like CBI and police to take "previous approval" of competent authority before conducting any inquiry or investigation against the public servant concerned, be it peon or secretary to the Government of India.
Such approval will not be necessary for cases involving 'arrest of a person on the spot on the charge of accepting or attempting to accept any undue advantage for himself or for any other person,' the panel said.
The committee, that examined changes in the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, gave its report in August this year.
The Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on August 19, 2013 during the UPA rule. However, it was referred to the parliamentary standing committee, which submitted its report to the Rajya Sabha on February 6, 2014. The Bill, however, could not be passed then.
On April 29 last year, the Union Cabinet approved amendments to the Prevention of Corruption Act and pursued the amendment bill after moving official amendments. On December 7, the Bill was sent to the Select Committee for examination.