The Prevention of Corruption Act (the “PCA”) is the primary Indian law that addresses corruption in government agencies and public sector businesses in India. Earlier this year, the PCA was significantly amended by the Indian parliament (the “Amended Act”). The key amendments are summarized below.
Previously, only bribe-takers were directly dealt with under the PCA. Bribe-givers could only be “indirectly” prosecuted through the PCA’s abetment provisions.
It is now an offence, under the Amended Act, to give or offer an “undue advantage” to another person, with the intention to “induce” or “reward” a public servant to improperly perform a public duty. Under the Amended Act, a mere promise, coupled with the requisite intention, is sufficient to constitute an offence of bribe-giving. The bribe-taker need not accept the “undue advantage” offered.
Notably, “undue advantage” is not limited to monetary bribes. Even gifts may constitute bribery under the Amended Act. This is similar to the United States’ Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, where a bribe of any value constitutes corruption so long as the bribe-giver had a corrupt intention.
A convicted bribe-giver faces fines and/or an imprisonment term of up to 7 years. This is the same maximum punishment as for bribe-takers.The criminalization of bribe-giving aligns India with the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), as well as the anti-corruption laws of jurisdictions such as the United States, the United Kingdom, and other Asian jurisdictions such as Singapore, Hong Kong, and Malaysia.