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Should bribe giving be legalised?

Soutik Biswas | 05:00 UK time, Saturday, 30 April 2011

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Should bribe giving be legalised to curb corruption? Chief economic adviser to the Indian government and leading economist Kaushik Basu thinks so. In a sharp new paper, Prof Basu, a former BBC columnist, says that the interests of bribe giver and bribe taker are congruent under the present law.


They are both "partners in a crime", and it is in their joint interest to keep the exchange hidden from law. But, Prof Basu argues, if you make bribe giving legal, the interests of the giver and taker collide and it is highly likely that the giver will blow the whistle and the bribe taker will get caught. One caveat: this will work only in checking what Prof Basu calls "harassment bribes" - holding back income tax refunds, property paper work and the like in return for graft - which is widespread in India, "breeding inefficiency and [having a] corrosive effect on civil society".

At a time when India is fiercely debating corruption after being hit by an avalanche of scandals, Prof Basu's radical prescription has predictably kicked up a storm. India's communist politicians - usually suspicious about new ideas - have trashed it as a "dangerous and unethical proposal". "Making it legal to pay bribes," said a communist functionary, "would undermine the values of honesty and integrity. Indeed, it would make people who don't pay bribes look like fools."

It is another matter that it is exceedingly difficult to find Indians who haven't paid a baksheesh in their lives.

Other critics like leading journalist P Sainath offer a more nuanced rebuttal. Bribery, he says, will exist as long as scarcity exists. There is an acute mismatch of demand and supply of government services. Making bribe giving legal will in no way curb bribery in sectors where scarcity exists, he argues. Indeed, Mr Sainath says, it will raise the stakes - making for more expensive bribes or the victims "facing heavier demands". "After all," he writes, "the bribe taker needs to be compensated for the higher risk he runs."

However, I found the highly respected development economist and social activist Jean Dreze's critique most compelling and informed. At the root of Prof Basu's thesis is the assumption that the bribe giver will blow the whistle and put the bribe taker in prison. If that does not happen, what is the use of decriminalising bribe giving?

Prof Dreze picks on this and feels that the chances of the bribe giver blowing the whistle against the taker are slim considering the "huge litigation costs, possible harassment and little chance of getting justice - not a far fetched assumption". A perfectly valid observation considering that India's judiciary crawls at a snail's pace.

The real choice, says Prof Dreze, is between not paying a bribe, and paying a bribe without blowing the whistle. "It is perfectly possible that many people would choose the former if bribing is illegal and punishable, but the latter (paying a bribe) if bribe-giving is legalised," he says.

Clearly the onus is on the bribe giver to nail the taker. How does he or she do it? Prof Basu suggests that the bribe giver will "try to keep evidence of the act of bribery" - a secret photo or jotting the numbers on currency notes handed over and so on - so that "immediately after the bribery" the giver can turn informer and get the taker caught. This is easier said than done.

Do you think Prof Basu's proposal legitimises corruption? Or should it - with some tweaks - be given serious thought?

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Making bribes 'legal' is not a new idea. Cho Ramaswamy, Journalist from Tamilnadu, wrote a successful play in the seventies/eighties, where a list of amounts of bribes for specific services would be displayed in every government office. At least this would help the 'novice' layman relief from the dilemma how much is 'fair'! I had a personal experience of waiting at a police station to get a 'no objection' certificate for submitting to the U.S consulate when my green card got stolen. I had to go the police station for about five days in a row and waiting for the constable in charge, who never showed up! Finally a local 'insider' told me how much I needed to cough up to get the certificate!

  • Comment number 2.

    It is a very farfetched idea to legalize bribe in a country like India. It will make things worse. The people living at the very margin of the society probably will vanish in a short time. But before that they will not hesitate to reciprocate in a way that will not be so peaceful (to others who can afford to bribe to get government service) and legal, as many naxals do now.
    Sometime ago it was proposed by some policy makers to abolish checking and punishing the railway passenger travelling without ticket. It was argued that the ticket checkers are in “great danger” while checking and punishing proper ticketless travellers in Indian railways, particularly in some specific route where a section of students and daily-passengers not only travel without any ticket on a regular basis but also harass (even physically torture) valid passengers and also rail officials from having their reserved seats. But after a lot of deliberations, the temptation was resisted. So the status quo is maintained. And now ticket checkers do not bother such well-known rogue students and daily-passengers in well-established routes.
    How many in Indians will qualify as “honest” for not taking bribe in his/her own (government) official domain while complaining for giving bribe to have justified, legal service from other government office/department? Not many I think. So if you complain for giving bribe, then the same official will get almost same number of complains for taking bribes! Then comes the question of corporate bribing, which is much more prevalent and also more dangerous that individual bribing. But in that case (corporate bribing to high ranking government officials and politicians), no business house will dare to do so simply because they need the person (or his/her replacement) to get other “works done”, may be in the same dept or in other government dept. and then the government official/department will not spare the company (who are no less corrupt) either.
    And who will complain against police and judiciary? The price for complaining against police and judiciary is too high in India that even powerful politicians think many times before placing on-record, written complaint against them.

  • Comment number 3.

    It is a very farfetched idea to legalize bribe in a country like India. It will make things worse. Lets keep aside the very ethical questions and consider the more "practical" aspects of the idea.The people living at the very margin of the society probably will vanish in a short time. But before that they will not hesitate to reciprocate in a way that will not be so peaceful (to others who can afford to bribe to get government services) and legal, as many naxals do now. Will it mean that if a person can or does not bribe, s/he will not get the desired service, even after paying his/her tax to the government?
    Does the proponents of the idea that "bribe giving should be legalized" (like Prof Kaushik Sen) also prescribe that people need not to pay tax (or substantially less tax- for services like "protection" by army and so on) for the service they receive from local and federal government? Will they pay as they use any service?

    Sometime ago it was proposed by some policy makers to abolish checking and punishing the railway passenger travelling without valid tickets. It was argued that the ticket checkers are in “great danger” while checking and punishing proper ticketless travellers in Indian railways, particularly in some specific route where a section of students and daily-passengers not only travel without any ticket on a regular basis but also harass (even physically torture) valid passengers and also rail officials from having their reserved seats. It was also argued that the "extra" money/infrastructure (for Indian Railways) to maintain to check tickets and get the penalties are far more than the money they recover by fining the ticket-less passengers. But after a lot of deliberations, the temptation was resisted. So the status quo is maintained. And now ticket checkers do not bother such well-known rogue students and daily-passengers in well-established routes.
    How many in Indians will qualify as “honest” for not taking bribe in his/her own (government) official domain while complaining for giving bribe to have justified, legal service from other government office/department? Not many I think. So if you complain for giving bribe, then the same official will get almost same number of complains for taking bribes! Then comes the question of corporate bribing, which is much more prevalent and also more dangerous that individual bribing. But in that case (corporate bribing to high ranking government officials and politicians), no business house will dare to do so simply because they need the person (or his/her replacement) to get other “works done”, may be in the same dept or in other government dept. and then the government official/department will not spare the company (who are no less corrupt) either.
    And who will complain against police and judiciary? The price for complaining against police and judiciary is too high in India that even powerful politicians think many times before placing on-record, written complaint against them.

  • Comment number 4.

    Perhaps it is not so much a bad idea to make "bribe" legal. One can use any euphemism one wants to describe the same. This will be an extra expense - but legal and people will at least know what the overall cost for a transaction will be. In the process hopefully the government will get to collect a tax from the recipient - perhaps they can call it "bribe" tax.

    The "bribe" takers can then compete and a consumer/customer/tax paying citizens will have the opportunity to choose the lowest "bribe" taker! Also, lawyers can specialize in the same.

    This will create a whole new industry and many people will get employed.

    The article also reminds this reader a Bengali joke that perhaps Soutik Biswas will appreciate. Though sounds better in its native language, it goes something like the following.

    A customer goes to a shop to buy rice and finds a lot of stone chips in it (rice was (is?) at times adulterated with stone chips). The customer then says to the shop keeper - "Why don't you guys make it a rule that if I want to buy a 1 Kg rice packet free of stone chips, I must also buy a 250g packet of stone chips. At least that way I don't have to go through the extra effort to separate the stone chips from the rice!!"

  • Comment number 5.

    There was a report sometime ago by UNESCO that tells that major Indian cities like Kolkata, Mumbai have infrastructure for only about 1.5 million people , but in reality both of those cities accommodate about 12 million. In that sense, I can assume that government and private companies can give "acceptable" level of service to only 1.5 million people.
    Where the rest will go, if they need to compete, bid for service? Will that be politically viable (people who can not "afford" service will far outnumber the people who can "buy" (or 'bribe") the service? Will that be not in direct conflict with the basic tenant of our democracy?

    Or will it be like serving ONLY those people who can buy service?

    There is another angle of the issue. Many of the government services are availed by those people who can not afford the alternative- be it drinking water, street/public light, hospitals, schools etc. How can you force them to do something else, knowing very well that they will not survive with that "free" service (even of that horrible quality that is given by any government )?

  • Comment number 6.

    Dear Essar, it seems the proposal legalizes only bribe giving, not taking. Taking bribe will remain same illegal, so that people who give bribe can come forward in a legal way to complain (officially).
    There comes another caveat, just like bribe, dowry is another issue where both giving and taking is the same crime. But there is NOT a single case (that I know of in whole India history) where giving dowry was ever been prosecuted. In reality, any money or other "kind" only becomes "dowry" when the relationship sours between the new couple and/or in-laws. Till then all such dowries are "gifts"!

  • Comment number 7.

    How do you legalise bribe-giving without legalising bribe-taking simultaneously? And how did Kaushik Basu come up with such an inane idea?

  • Comment number 8.

    It is a perverted Idea. The most dangerous form of corruption is policy making which hands away natural resources and public funds to large corporates. No wonder experts like these are the bane of India where the millions suffer amid super rich tycoons.

  • Comment number 9.

    And what about those people who literally cannot afford to pay a bribe for the services they require - of whom there are many in India. Legalising bribes will further marginalise these groups from society and make it more difficult for them to access services (even though they are the people that need government services most), because those that will be able to pay bribes will then get more priority than they already do.
    Legalising bribes is a short term idea (which I don't think would work due to the nuances such as the litigation costs described above), which will make the long term battle against corruption much more difficult. There are many countries in the world where corruption does not blight every government service (although corruption still does exist everywhere), and India should learn from these countries. According to my own research, it'll find that the main player in fight corruption is education for all, including those marginalised communities who normally suffer most at the hands of corrupt individuals.

  • Comment number 10.

    This has no effect on the routine police bribes that act as informal fines for certain activity - with an overloaded courts system the police would probably get flack for charging every minor drug possession or disorder offence (just as they would in the west for that matter though they don't take bribes police officers are often partisan about which people they charge and which they don't, if they take a dislike to you then you could go through the courts for something that nine out of ten people would just get ticked off for - corruption of a different kind).

    It seems to be that the crime should be 'to gain advantage by corruption' that way the chap who bribes an official to release a tax rebate to which he is entitled does not commit a crime - he was entitled to the rebate and was forced to grease the wheels, the official would commit crime because they got money to which they were not entitled.

    A cop who donated his bribe income to charity and only took bribes because that was how the system worked could keep records and shop everyone if he felt like it having gained no benefit from the bribes he's commit no crime.

  • Comment number 11.

    It is a disgusting practice and should never be morally accepted, let alone legalised! It is painful to see bribery being common practice, not only to get favours, but to actually get the required work done in the first place. Bribery is universal, no matter what form of government - in an autocracy such as China we have people bribing low ranking officials (though illegal) so they get noticed, and for building work to be sped up; whilst the most established democracy in the world, USA, has loads of lobbies set up by various interest groups and corporations - for the purpose of buying gifts and services for the politicians and lawmakers - another words, bribery.

    Legalisation isn't getting rid of corruption at all, instead it is making corruption acceptable and thus promoting the practice.

  • Comment number 12.

    Corruption, many would agree, is the worse diseases that has plagued almost the entire globe. However, unless respected political leaders (unfortunately there are not many) decide to take the bull by the horn, the cancer will propagate until the we reach the state of the Arab world uprising against corrupt political leaders. India has a golden opportunity, through the courageous actions of Anna Hazare, to show the world that corruptioncan be "eliminated" provided sincere strong political will is present.

  • Comment number 13.

    For an information I just want to post here an abstract of Kaushik Basu article about legalization of bribe.

    "In the rush to produce urgent policy documents and briefing notes that any government has to do, it is easy to let matters that may not be quite as urgent to go unattended. However, the not-so-urgent often includes matters of great importance for the long-run well-being of the nation and its citizenry. Research papers on topics of strategic economic policy fall in this category. The Economic Division in the Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, has initiated this Working Paper series to make available to the Indian policymaker, as well as the academic and research community interested in the Indian economy, papers that are based on research done in the Ministry of Finance and address matters that may or may not be of immediate concern but address topics of importance for India‘s sustained and inclusive development. It is hoped that this series will serve as a forum that gives shape to new ideas and provides space to discuss, debate and disseminate them"

    Business Forum

  • Comment number 14.

    Just check this news, "Rural households paid over Rs 470 cr bribe for basic services". The 'India Corruption Study: 2010' report prepared by Centre for Media Studies (CMS), a survey of 9,960 households in 12 states, says on an average a rural household could have paid Rs 164 as bribe for availing these facilities in a year.

    Now consider the recent fact that Indian central government, members of parliament, intelligence agencies (RAW) and investigative agencies like CBI was directly involved in Purulia arms drop case (where many innocent, peace-loving "Ananda Margi" people were killed fro suspicion for that arms dropping). If the level of corruption has penetrated so deep into our political and other democratic institutions, then there is not much value to prevent corruption at lower level.

  • Comment number 15.

    The other option is, if you make "bribe" giving legal and add that as surcharge for the service the department is providing then that charge will be added with existing bribe. That type of surcharge will go to the department (as done by many countries like Switzerland), NOT the person involved. In such a situation, culture of "bribe" will not diminish.

  • Comment number 16.

    The diversion of 'service', by any form of bribery. implies subversion and dereliction of 'duty', the result being corruption not just of individuals and processes but of such purposes as might be shared by the whole community.

    If a society is 'sclerotic' in its allocation of investment, or 'unfair' in the sharing of its output, then it might 'need' or even 'deserve' corruption. History and imagination will tell that there is a price to be paid when fairness and efficiency are neglected, when unfairness and inefficiency have to be 'bought off'. When issues of development, prosperity, peace, and even survival are widely seen as at stake, then the corruption of expected democratic state purpose, and the sabotage of reasonable hopes, may make change a matter of life and death, may dictate rebellion.

    It makes urgent sense to assert the duty of equal treatment, either in turn or according to agreed priority, for every citizen and every customer, from both public services and private businesses, when as now it becomes widely recognised that the net cost of corruption has become too high, and when as now there is the technical as well as the moral basis for solution.

    Some will say the problem is too big, too widespread and at first analysis as deep as 'human nature'. From tips to supplement poor wages, through bribes for not-so-poor salaried officials, to sums extorted under threat, how can any country in the world today even dream of ending corruption, or 'regularising' such flows of money? In an otherwise sclerotic system, corruption or lack of transparency, might enrich or save - lives, businesses, countries and even the world - paradoxically enabling the fulfilment of democratic social purpose. Preferment of less able people might sustain networks of incidental social utility; selection of less appropriate technologies might at times help to ensure vital competition for the future; and in competition or time of war the decisions of a leader, sometimes involving personal interests, might have to be only 'in due course' accounted-for, rather than being explained for deliberative prior approval.

    However, in weighing the net cost of corruption, we have to consider whether state sclerosis and unfairness might be not mere settings but prime consequences of corruption. As 'the benefits of corruption' become concentrated, perhaps in older generations, perhaps in the conspicuously wealthy children of a wealthy elite, the point will eventually be reached of widespread recognition that the state is not 'for the people' and not 'for the planet that we all depend on'. Given such realisations, choice of change might be thought to lie between 'more democracy' or 'less dictatorship', risking mere 'change without much change', cycling between political, religious and military fantasies. Today, with wider education and faster communications, people are speaking more of the building of genuine democracy, guaranteeing sustainable representative government.

    Elites may exclaim: "But we have Democracy!". Others will advise: "Better well-oiled Corruption than something Anti-Libertarian!" The democratic, rather than seeking to regulate 'what people do with their own money', will focus on the conditions of sustainable representative government. It is only with secure income equality, and prudent personal savings maxima ('My cup runneth over!'), that we can know true freedom of conscience and equality of political power. These conditions make possible the essential dual focus of the common good and the everyday care of each other as individuals, however classified, 'in education', 'in work', 'in government'. In a working democracy we must all be free to represent all.

    Genuine democracy, understood and accepted by the people, would in itself end the 'business model' of corruption - no special means for bribery, no helpless takers, and - in the absence of a world-owning elite - 'nowhere to hide'.

    To be explicit, in a democratic necessarily equal society, there would be no 'upper- end of the market' for bribe-takers to hide, amongst the criminal / hard-bargaining / hereditary; and there would be no 'lower end of the market' for the relative comfort of those (not disabled or legitimately retired) who from principle or idleness choose to subsist on 'minimum rations'.

    In one of the 'harder cases', of healthcare, where service should ideally be 'available and free at the point of need', realism in a world of finite resource would distinguish between funded 'necessity' (such as emergency care), and self-paid 'extras' (such as timing of surgery and choice of surgeon). In a world of conscience, the receipt of even small fees (by of course the service, not the surgeon) would be taken as a vote for greater investment. Equal quality of service, whether personally delivered or assisted or supervised or delegated, would remain the responsibility of the surgeon(s) in charge.

    I leave you with the thought of a world of justified trust, an end to the crushing burdens of hopeless bureaucracy, all of us 'supervised' by ourselves and each other, our world headed for survival in peace and prosperity.



  • Comment number 17.

    The reaction of the Indian left is disgraceful. I am surprised that you actually found Sainath’s reaction “nuanced”. It is a no holds barred attack on Basu, the prime minister and the entire government. In a highly personalized attack that is laced with contempt, Sainath accuses Basu of simultaneously being “immodest” and not talking “sense”.

    The trouble with this kind of discussion is that it actually prevents people from arriving at a solution. For instance, ordinary people are harassed when they seek healthcare, look for ration cards or a driver license, register property, or seek electricity or water connections. Attacking the government or the prime minister will do nothing to change it. Fixing the 2G scam will not solve it either.

    Yet, these everyday problems can be solved. It requires an understanding that corruption occurs when rent seeking government officials interface with private citizens and companies. Reducing the footprint of the government could make a big difference. Selected government functions could be outsourced, with the government retaining the responsibility for monitoring the delivery of the functions. Another possibility is to allow the police to conduct “sting” operations, where they would actually try to bribe officials. Those who accept could then be arrested on the spot. Yet, another suggestion is to give autonomy to the enforcement machinery in their everyday operation and reduce the political interference that takes place thorough political transfers. All of these ideas have been implemented in various part of the world with considerable success.

    There are so many creative things that can be done to rid India of the culture of bribery. However, you won’t find Indian journalists and columnists examine the details to look for solutions. Instead, what the Indian left and the sainaths of the world do is to raise the decibel of the discussion so as to hijack the discussion for their political agenda. Unfortunately, people of the country pay the price, because in the end nothing is solved.

  • Comment number 18.

    India is high on the corruption list not because we are the most corrupt people on the face of this earth but because we lack the enforcement of prevailing laws and the will to do anything for the society.
    The human race is a corrupt race. Look at the history or even your children and you will know what I am talking about.
    Corruption is present everywhere. In India we call it bribes and in the western world it’s called lobbying.
    There are a few ways to reduce corruption in the Indian society:
    1. Cash/check transactions of all kinds must be banned. Banking Institutions should stop all transactions in checks/cash (of course after giving the entire billion plus to deposit the money). Everyone must use an ID/credit/debit card for all transactions however small. The card should not be issued by a private institution but by the government only. So, when no cash can be regulated in the market, black money, forged money and all monies that are illegal will not be available. This will stop the rotation of cash and all the ills that cash brings like riots, murders, dowry and killing of infant girls would reduce.

    This will stop the flow of ill-gotten money to places like Switzerland.

    This will also reduce the cost incurred by the government and the common man (as the government uses our money to spend) to mint money.

    2. To stop corruption at higher levels, make law to prevent anyone from becoming a chief minister/prime minister/MLA/MP for more than 2 terms. Look at Tamil Nadu to see the problems it creates. Also, if a person has already been in any of these posts, their relative however far cannot take these posts for a period of 15 years. Look at our dear friend from Bihar.

    I am sure the people on this forum can add more to these ideas. But the question remains-What is the use of a few of us ranting on a foreign news website about corruption in India when as is said "An idea not coupled with action will never get any bigger than the brain cell it occupied".

  • Comment number 19.

    Why not privatize the bureaucracy. The government could outsource the task of issuing most of the paperwork affecting the common man on a contract basis, paying a fixed fee per processed case. Instead of awarding exclusive contracts, it would simply grant permission to at least three or four such contractors in each town/municipality. The general public would be free to choose whichever contractor they wish to go to, which would be an incentive for these to be efficient and friendly. In the event that these seek bribes as well, then the common man would have the option of choosing the one seeking the cheapest of these.

    Of course, all this is nigh impossible to implement, and would not put an end to corruption still as that is rooted deep in Indian society. But any plan to combat corruption or reform the bureaucracy is likely to meet stiff resistance. A move to privatize the service may still offer the path of least resistance.

  • Comment number 20.

    Crappiest argument from so called "Intellectuals". Prostitution is bad.....legalise it. Gambling is bad.....legalise it. Cricket betting is bad.....legalise it. A day will come when these intellectuals will have arguments for legalising petty theft and murder. And the day is not far away when living clean itself will be illegal.

  • Comment number 21.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 22.

    Bribery is a way of life in India today, and respectable Indian newspapers report practically on a daily basis, that they are sanctioned by the “democratically elected” political powers, the judiciary and the law-enforcement agencies (police and investigative agencies)!

    Clearly the "big money" is associated with business dealings, and is perceived as either a "cost of doing business", or as the price of being allowed to get an unfair, often illegal, advantage - and the more wrong it is the higher the price.

    The daily bribes, in their millions (billions?) are collected by harassing people, who will not find it easy to resist. How can a mother not pay a bribe to get a gas cylinder to cook for the family when she might be without it for 3 weeks or more (despite govt. advert in the papers to the contrary)? How can a parent not see a doctor privately first, when their baby is sick and so on? Why should a grocer not hoard and charge exorbitant prices, when he has had to pay bribes himself maybe? ... and so on. These bribes are collected through a wide range of devices - from creating artificial scarcities, complex and ambiguous regulations, no transparency about eligibility criteria/application or decision making process/or right of appeal etc - but all these devices have the same objective: the more the pain inflicted the greater will be the bribe extracted.

    Often the officials are bribe collection agents of their superior officers and political masters, and if not compliant, they may themselves lose their jobs or be transferred to remote interiors, middle of academic year, to destroy their children's future.

    Ordinary people in India live in fear, and are weighed down by the anxiety of daily harassment - whether in their daily living, educating their children, or getting medical care. Hence they opt to relax watching TV for 6 or more hours a day, and generally stay clear of anything that could identify them as trouble-makers. I have heard very senior officers advising people not to file FIRs (police reports), as the victim, if richer than the accused, will be harassed for ever, and the case never closed (to collect bribes). The backlog of legal cases is hundreds of years long, and there are worrying levels of corruption, even admitted by the senior most judges in the country, and so on.

    I am no economist and I know Dr Basu is a world acclaimed economist, and I do not wish to criticise his theory. But how can anyone in these circumstances theorise that the ordinary folks have any choice in the matter, let alone dare to "tell on the official"?

    And oh yes, there is another pastime, which even the so called serious Indian newspapers indulge in. And that is to blame it all on Britain, even 60 years after independence. And the BBC is quite right not to rise to the bait, and to ignore it with the disdain it deserves.

    The only glimmer of hope is that the recent anti-corruption awakenings in India are not smothered at birth by the mighty vested interests, and there are sufficient numbers of Indians willing to make a sacrifice to preserve human values in their society for their children and future generations. No one other than they themselves can change the situation.

    The vast majority of Indians are decent people, and will become as law abiding as the citizens of any other country, if their leaders would only give them half a chance - but will they? I cry and pray for the ordinary people of India, and wish them well.

  • Comment number 23.

    It strikes me somewhat surprising that this proposition should come down at the same time as India has invited comments from the public on a draft anti-corruption law that would allow investigators to prosecute officials of foreign government and international organizations.
    One has to wonder what type of bribe is being targeted - little of big (with a very BIG "B").
    This BIG proposal was open to commentary till April 30, 2011. The proposed legislation is critical before the Government of India can ratify the 2003 United Nations Convention Against Corruption, initially signed by India in 2005.
    The convention deals with the criminalization of bribery committed by officials of public international organizations, including the UN, taking into account questions of privileges and immunities, as well as of jurisdiction and the role of international organizations.
    The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, which is facing a number of allegations of corruption, introduced the Prevention of Bribery of Foreign Public Officials and Officials of Public International Organisations Bill in Parliament on March 25.
    It would empower an Indian court to sentence a foreign public official, if found guilty of corruption, to six months to seven years in prison. Once the Bill is passed, it will allow the government to sign treaties with other countries under the UN convention to help investigating agencies prosecute the accused.
    The Bill defines a foreign public official as a person holding a legislative, executive, administrative or judicial office in a foreign country, any person exercising a public function for a foreign country and any official or agent of a public international organization.
    Certain provisions of the existing Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, would also be amended to clear the way for the new legislation.
    Should bribe giving be legalized? No.
    Should bribe receiving be legalized? No.
    Should India place herself in a position to tackle really BIG corruption - potentially internal or external? Yes.
    Should these really BIG cases be highly publicized? Yes, especially country(s) or origin.

 

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