(Sample Material) Gist of IIPA Journal: Central Vigilance Commission: A Profile P.K. Gopinath

(Sample Material) Gist of Important Articles from IIPA Journal

Topic: Central Vigilance Commission: A Profile P.K. Gopinath

Creation of CVC

A Parliamentary debate in June, 1962 zoomed in on the “Growing Menace of Corruption in Administration”. Contextually, the then Home Minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri observed, “since we know most of the problems, the real point is to take remedial action”. This led to the formation of the Committee on Prevention of Corruption-better known as Santhanam Committee-to review the problem and make suggestions.

The report of the Committee is a tour de force that stemmed from a deep understanding of the aetiology of corruption in this country, the spread of its tentacles and the institutional response required to combat it. Among other things, the Santhanam Committee noticed the conspicuous absence of a dynamic integration between the Vigilance Units in various ministries and the Administrative Vigilance Division of the Ministry of Home Affairs. The Committee also raised an important issue that the administration could not be a judge of its own conduct. As a result, it recommended constitution of the CVC. The government accepted this and the Commission was set up under the terms of the Goverment of India Resolution dated February 11,1964.

Role,. Power and Jurisdiction of CVC

The CVC has been given the jurisdiction and powers in respect of matters to which the executive power of the Union extends. It has also been given the same measure of independence and autonomy as the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), a statutory body. Broadly, the functions assigned to the Commission are:

1. undertake inquiry into any transaction in which a public servant (in Central Government organisations) is suspected or alleged to have acted for an improper purpose or in a corrupt manner and to tender advice to the Disciplinary Authorities in such cases at different stages of investigation, inquiry appeal, review, etc.;
2. exercise a general check and supervision over the vigilance and anti-corruption work in ministries and departments of the Government of India, Central Public Sector Undertakings and other autonomous bodies;
3. advise the administrative authorities to modify the existing procedures and practices when it appears that such procedures and practices afford scope for corruption and miscondnct; and
4. approve the appointment of Chief Vigilance Officers (CVOs) who head the Vigilance Units in various organizations.

Procedure of Work

The Commission is an advisory body. Ordinarily, advice is tendered on the basis of a two-stage consultation process with departments. Depending on the contents, complaints are referred either to the CVO or the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for investigation. At the First Stage, the investigation report is examined and advice tendered regarding further course of action. It could be prosecution, major or minor penalty action or other non-statutory administrative action. In addition, there can be closure of a case at the first stage itself. In cases where major penalty proceedings are advised, on completion of the oral inquiry, advice is tendered, on the basis of the findings in the inquiry, regarding the nature of penalty to be imposed. This is the second stage advice.

There is a common misconception that anti-corruption work is the exclusive domain of a police agency like the CBI and that in every case, action could be initiated as under the Law. This is not true. Neither it is based on a proper appreciation of the nature of the problem of corruption nor of the role of the departmental vigilance machinery. For one thing, investigation of a case and the successful generation of a level of proof sustainable before critical judicial scrutiny is an extremely difficult task.

The other facet is that all cases may not reveal the ingredient of criminal misconduct that is a prerequisite for prosecution. Yet, many of them will be cases of grave misconduct, breaching conduct rules governing public servants with clear traces of ulterior motive and malafide. Thus, the appreciation of the distinction between a criminal misconduct and a departmental misconduct is important to enhance the effectiveness of anti-corruption work. The distinction is also linked to the kind of proof that is required in a case and the resultant action taken.

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