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Layers of protection: on changes in anti-corruption law

Protecting honest public servants is important; so are anti-corruption efforts
The amendments(संशोधन/सुधार) to the Prevention(रोक-थाम/निवारण) of Corruption Act, 1988, adopted(अपनाया गया/गोद लिया)recently by both Houses of Parliament, are a mixed bag. Moves to make changes in this law, aimed at combating(मुकाबला)corruption in government, were initiated(शुरू की/आरंभ करना) during(दौरान/की अवधि में) the UPA’s second term in office and largely centred on the misuse of one provision(प्रावधान/नियम) — Section 13 (1)d. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had criticised(आलोचना की) this section, under which public servants are culpable(अपराधिक/सदोष) for securing(सुरक्षित करना/प्राप्त करना) a pecuniary(आर्थिक) advantage for another “without any public interest”, for ignoring a foundationalprinciple(सिद्धांत/नियम) of criminal law: mens rea. This resulted in many honest officials being prosecuted(अभियुक्त /मुकदमा चलाया) even when they gained nothing and merely(केवल/सादे तौर पर) exercised their power or discretion(निर्णय/विवेक) in favour(पक्ष/तरफ़दारी) of someone. Insofar(जहां तक) as it had a chilling effect on governance and deterred(रोक रखना) bold decision-making, the amended form may have a liberating effect on honest officials. Besides, it is more concise(संक्षिप्त) and restricts(रोकना/सम्बन्धी सीमाओं) criminal misconduct(क़सूर/दुराचार) to two offences(अपराधों/अपमान) misappropriating(दुरूपयोग/ग़बन करना) or converting(परिवर्तित/रूप बदलना) to one’s own use property entrusted(सौंपा गया/न्यासित) to a public servant or is in his control, and amassing(एकत्र करना/ढेर लगाना) unexplained(अस्पष्टीकृत) wealth(संपत्ति).There was concern initially with the wording, “intentionally enriches himself illicitly(अवैध रूप से/अनुचित ढंग से) during the period of his office”, as it raised a doubt whether the ‘intention’ to amass wealth would also have to be proved. Now an explanation has been added that a person “shall be presumed(परिकल्पित) to have intentionally(जानबूझकर /अभिप्रायपूर्वक) enriched(समृद्ध/बढ़ाना)himself” if he cannot account for his assets through known sources of income.

By making citizens liable(उत्तरदायी/जिम्मेदार) for offering a bribe(रिशवत/घूस) to a public servant, the anti-corruption law has been brought in line with the UN Convention(सम्मेलन/परंपरा) Against Corruption. The only exception to this rule is when one is forced to give a bribe. This exception kicks in only when the fact that one was forced to pay a bribe is reported to a law enforcement authority within seven days. The penal(दंडात्मक /सज़ा योग्य) provision can empower people by allowing them to cite it to refuse to pay a bribe. At the same time, what happens when the police or any other agency refuses to register a complaint? People may be left in the lurch with no redress. Further, it may render(बनानेवाला/प्रस्तुत करना) them vulnerable(कमजोर/आलोचनीय) to threats(खतरे/आशंका) from unscrupulous(बेईमान ) public servants who collect money to speed up public services but do not deliver. The most unacceptable(अस्वीकार्य/अमान्य) change is the introduction of a prior approval norm to start an investigation. When a prior(पूर्व) sanction(स्वीकृति) requirement exists in law for prosecution, it is incomprehensible(समझ से बाहर) that the legislature(विधान मंडल) should create another layer of protection in the initial stage of a probe(जांच/छानबीन). Public servants need to be protected against unfair prosecution, but a genuine(वास्तविक/मूल) drive against corruption needs a package of legislative measures(उपायों. These should contain penal provisions, create an ombudsman in the form of a Lokpal or Lokayukta, as well as assure(आश्वासन) citizens of time-bound services and whistle-blower protection. Laws to fulfil these objectives are either not operational or are yet to materialise(अमल में लाना।/व्यवहार में लाना).




Important vocabulary

Synonyms: cope, fight,, oppose, repel, resist
Antonyms: support, surrender, yield, agree, give in

Synonyms: guilty, impeachable, liable, reprehensible, responsible
Antonyms: immune, irresponsible, blameless, inculpable, innocent

Synonyms: attention, foresight, maturity, prudence, responsibility
Antonyms: carelessness, disregard, ignorance, indiscretion, negligence

4.Entrusted(सौंपा गया/न्यासित)
Synonyms: allocate, assign, authorize, commend, commit
Antonyms: deny, hold, keep, retain, withhold

5.Amassing(एकत्र करना/ढेर लगाना
Synonyms: assemble, collect, compile, garner, hoard
Antonyms: disperse, divide, scatter, separate, disburse

Synonyms: embellished, enhanced, fortified

Synonyms: blackmail, compensation, gift, graft, gratuity
Antonyms: hindrance, loss, penalty

Synonyms: accountable, amenable, bound, chargeable, obligated
Antonyms: irresponsible, unaccountable, excusable, freed, immune

9.Render(बनानेवाला/प्रस्तुत करना)
Synonyms: encourage, persuade, reassure, satisfy, bag
Antonyms: hold, keep, take, withhold, conceal

Synonyms: encourage, persuade, reassure, satisfy, bag
Antonyms: discourage, dissuade, distress




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