This is among fresh amendments approved by the Union Cabinet on Wednesday to the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 which also includes putting corruption in the category of heinous crimes punishable with imprisonment upto seven years.
Making it more difficult for the CBI to prosecute officers facing allegations of corruption, the proposed amendment makes it mandatory for the investigating agency to take prior sanction from the Lokpal or Lokayuktas for probing "offences relatable to recommendations made or decision taken by a public servant in discharge of official functions or duties."
The amendment comes in the wake of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's assurance to bureaucrats that they should take decisions fearlessly and that he would back them for bonafinde decisions.
The NDA government has refrained from introducing large-scale amendments to the PC Act and made only a few changes to the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013 that was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on August 19, 2013 by the previous UPA regime.
The fresh amendments, which will be tabled in Rajya Sabha soon, also provide for stringent punishment for bribe givers which is not there in the existing law.
The minimum sentence for an offence of corruption has been enhanced from six months to three years and from maximum five years to seven years. Any sentence for seven years puts an offence in the heinous crime category.
Taking note of the delay in legal proceedings in corruption cases, the proposed changes in the Act make it mandatory for the courts to conclude the trial within two years.
"The average trial period of cases under PC Act in the last four years has been above eight years. It is proposed to ensure speedy trial by providing a trial completion (period) within two years," an official release said. The official amendments propose to confer the powers of attachment upon the trial Court (Special Judge) instead of the District Court.
Taking a cue from coalgate-like cases, the proposed amendments seek to ensure that CBI and anti-corruption entities do not hound bureaucrats until it is found that decisions taken in official capacity had benefited them personally.

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