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November 7, 2018

New anti graft law criminalises offering bribes


November 7, 2018

KARACHI: The Punjab government has prepared a draft anti corruption law broadening the sphere of the anti graft mechanism against those elected to public office, stripping them of their immunity and freeing the DG of anti corruption agency of any political, administrative control. The draft law is a comprehensive legal framework that for the first time has criminalised offering bribes, covers conflict of interests and provides for whistle-blower.

The Punjab Anti Corruption Agency Bill 2018, which has to be now put up before the Punjab Assembly for passage into an act. The draft law provides for creation of Punjab Anti-Corruption Council (PACC) headed by the chief justice of the Lahore High Court.

The supervisory nature of the PACC and its strong constitution allows the director general of the agency to freely and independently pursue the anti corruption mandate.

The other members of the PACC would be an LHC judge, a representative of the Punjab governor, minister for law, chairman Public Accounts Committee or the leader of the opposition and DG of the anti corruption agency.

Free from any political controls, the PACC will appoint a grade 20 officer as DG with a three-year fixed tenure and would be the sole body that could remove him.

He could also prevent an escaping suspect by placing him on ECL and no travel list. The law provides the DG Anti Corruption Agency with necessary powers to secure any financial information about a suspected officer or a public officer holder. Furthermore, he would not have to seek prior permission from the chief minister or the chief secretary before arresting any senior government officer.

For the first time ever, the ambit of law is being extended against those elected to public office. The agency can arrest any “holder of public office including the governor, a chief minister, speaker provincial assembly, members of the provincial assembly, cabinet members, mayors, deputy mayors and the whole elected local bodies hierarchy.” The law seeks to disqualify the elected representatives for 15 years.

The new law regulates both active and passive corruption which is both the payment and receipt of bribes. The law, for the first time creates a provision to enlist the help of a whistle- blower who reports an illegal activity in ‘good faith’. The draft law protects the whistle-blower against any hostile action.

The new law appears to be a robust anti graft mechanism and hope it is passed by the provincial assembly members.

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