New Delhi: Under the new anti-corruption law, seeking and accepting sexual favours will be considered a bribe where the accused could end up receiving a jail term of seven years as their quota of punishment. Notably, the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Act, 2018 incorporates the umbrella term undue advantage, which means any gratification other than legal remuneration and also includes expensive club memberships and hospitality.
The anti-corruption law holds that the word gratification is not limited to pecuniary gratifications or to gratifications estimable in money. The new amendment is made to the 30-year-old Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, that covers instances of corruption by public servants.
Under the new law, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) can book officials for seeking and accepting sexual favours, expensive club memberships and hospitality or for providing employment to close friends or relatives among others. It would also encompass payments for any goods and services deliverable any other commercial entity too, like down payments for the purchase of property or movables and or payments towards memberships of clubs etc. It also includes more specifically sexual favours, which is the most reprehensible of all expectations, Rao said.
Before this, bribe givers were not covered in any domestic legislation to check corruption. Senior Supreme Court lawyer G Venkatesh Rao said the term undue advantage could mean any favours which are non-monetary, like expensive gifts or any kind of freebies, giving a free holiday or payment of airline tickets and stay.
Five years ago, the government introduced the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013 to expand the definition of bribery and to cover graft in the private sector. The term used to define bribery-related offences then was “financial or other advantage”.