The Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Department of Personnel, Public Grievances and Law and Justice, which examined the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013, has suggested that not only bribe-takers but also bribe-givers be punished with imprisonment and fine. Its report was tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday.

Addressing a press conference here, Committee Chairman Shantaram Naik said: “Bribe-giving, an implicit offence in the Act, will now become an explicit offence.”

Some of the witnesses who appeared before the committee said “bribe is paid out of compulsion.”

“However, the panel is of the view that those who are forced to pay bribe are duty-bound to report the matter to appropriate authority. No one is free to give bribe and then take shelter under the pretext that he/she was compelled to pay bribe,” Mr. Naik said.

The Committee has recommended that the minimum punishment for the habitual offence of corruption be enhanced to five years from three years to synchronise the provisions with those of the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013. It has also suggested that the provision for seeking sanction of an appropriate authority for prosecution of a public servant accused of corruption be extended to “retired government servant.”

“Such a shield,” he said, was required to prevent frivolous complaints against public servants.

Asked about the Supreme Court’s observation that the provision for sanction for prosecution was impeding the anti-corruption law, Mr. Naik said that while the court was free to interpret laws, Parliament had the powers to legislate.