The Supreme Court (SC) bench consisting of Justice BV Nagarathna, and Justice Ujjwal Bhuyan said it will hear a public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the constitutionality of the latest amendments in the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 on November 20. The constitutionality of some of the Act's amendments was challenged because they violate fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 14 (Equality before law) and Article 21 (Protection of Life and Personal Liberty) of the Constitution of India. The amendments challenged in the petition filed by the Centre were brought out by the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Act, 2018. During the SC proceedings, Advocate Prashant Bhushan represented the Centre and Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati represented the Union of Government.
The petition states that some of the original provisions of the Act are completely diluted due to the amendments by deleting some of the earlier offences and introducing new provisions which would protect corrupt officials and exponentially increase the level of corruption. Along with this, the petitioner assaulted Section 12 of the Amendment Act that introduced Section 17A (1) under the Act. Also, the petition reads, “It is the provision of Section 13 (1)(d)(ii) that is the very essence of saving the country from the evil of corruption and realization of Preambular ideals on equality and economic justice. It is the heart of the Prevention of Corruption Act.” It further added, “...although abuse of position has now been included in the amended Section 7 of the Act as part of Explanation 2 of the clause, it is pertinent to note that Section 7 defines offences relating to public servants being bribed. The marginal heading of Section 7 states ‘Offence relating to public servant being bribed’”
After hearing the arguments of both parties, a two-judge bench of the SC decided to hear the PIL on November 20, 2023.