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The government Friday introduced a bill in the Lok Sabha to seek extradition of and punish foreign officials involved in bribery in India – a provision not covered by domestic anti-corruption laws.

According to the proposed law, any person ‘holding a legislative, executive, administrative or judicial office of a foreign country’ found accepting or giving bribe to secure a contract in India would be liable to be punished for up to seven years in India.

Even the ‘abetment’ of such offences would be a criminal offence under the proposed bill.

The Prevention of Bribery of Foreign Public Officials and Officials of Public International Organisations Bill, 2011, ‘makes provisions declaring the (bribery) as extraditable offence’.

India has in place a framework for combating corruption under certain laws, including the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Prevention of Money-laundering Act. But the bribery of foreign public officials in international business deals is not covered under these laws.

The new bill also powers the government to ratify the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), which New Delhi signed in 2005.

India had not ratified the convention so far because its domestic laws did not cover provisions under the UNCAC that criminalise the act of bribing by and of foreign public officials.

The new bill will pave the way for the ratification, said Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs V. Narayanasamy, who introduced the bill.

He said the ratification of the UN convention requires ‘criminalising the act of foreign bribery’.

The new bill also allows India to provide assistance to a foreign country and sign reciprocal arrangements for extradition of accused persons.

‘It makes provision for attachment, seizure and confiscation of property (of accused) in a contracting state or in India,’ according to the draft of the bill.

Contracting state means any country that has signed such anti-corruption treaty with India.

‘Bribery of public officials to obtain advantages in international business raised serious moral and political concerns, undermines good governance and sustainable economic development, and distorts competition,’ the statement of objects and reasons of the bill said.

‘Corruption in awarding business contracts has social, political, environmental and economic costs which no country can afford.

‘Serious consequences result when public officials take bribes in awarding contracts to foreign businesses for public service such as roads, water, and electricity, resulting in inappropriate decisions and undermining plans for development,’ it added.

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