The 1988 Prevention of Corruption Act was a significant step in a way to encounter the challenge of corruption in a broader sense. Section 13 (1) (d) of this act has provision on Criminal misconduct by a public servant in five forms.
It is necessary and important in ensuring probity in civil services as:
- It ascertains the liability clearly defining the scenarios, thereby avoiding the vagueness of the “abuse of office” phrase of 1947 law against public servant corruption.
- It keeps a check on public servants so that they not easily give up to corrupt demands from their superiors (accused case of H.C. Gupta in the coal scam)
- It provides for a criminal liability on abetment of graft, even in cases in which the pubic servant is not benefitted directly, but gross misappropriation occurred because of the absence of any resistance
- Ensures that while holding office, obtaining anything valuable, or taking any pecuniary advantage, without any public interest is treated as criminal misconduct.
A fearless environment and accountability are two pillars which provide a stable platform for a successful bureaucracy, and the proposed amendment to do away with sec 13 1 d will definitely challenge both of these pillars as well as the governance framework in which, an easy drift for an honest and weak civil servant may become very frequent. The solution therefore should be making the section more elaborate, amending its provisions to further strengthen the accountability of civil servants- by documenting their decisions and the reasons behind in a more elaborate question anwer framework and by creating a more accountable, transparent structure in which the public servant is always answerable to the public or the assigned authority (via press, media or gazette) because at last it is all about the public money and societal needs for which the bureaucracy works.