By Jalaj Tokas
Published On: November 30, 2021 at 13:40 IST
Let the eye of vigilance never be closed.Thomas Jefferson
Successful implementation of development and democratization tasks necessitates not only qualities of an effective action plan, good governance and taking accountability on the part of administrators, but also an intellectual integration of what might be called as a system of checks and balances.
Corruption in India is a ubiquitous problem, and some feel it has become a way of life in the country. Its size and reach have grown dramatically. It has infiltrated the highest levels of federal, state, and municipal administration. Furthermore, the ailment has spread beyond the executive branches of government to the legislature, the judiciary, the press, and even apolitical professions.
Corruption’s negative consequences are well-known. It stifles our development initiatives and undermines democratic systems. Bribery, cronyism, deliberate action or inactivity, favoritism; failure to adhere to laid down protocols resulting to unanticipated benefit to someone or denial of benefit to the worthy are all examples of corruption.
However, there has been a mutually reinforcing cooperation at the political and bureaucratic levels, which is significant. The fight against corruption is waged on several fronts. A system of oversight also known as vigilant investigation is at the forefront of this fight.
What is Vigilance?
The capacity of observers to keep their attentional focus and remain aware to stimuli over lengthy periods of time is referred to as vigilance. Vigilance is described as a state of attentiveness and circumspection. In every institution, vigilance administration is as important as any other managerial function.
If an organization’s vigilance system is functional, it will definitely ensure that the other parts run smoothly. It entails identifying anomalies, analyzing and determining the causes of those abnormalities, and implementing effective systemic adjustments to address them. It also involves identifying the public officials who have committed wrongdoing by implementing appropriate disciplinary measures.
The instrument of vigilance is employed to prevent corruption from spreading. Preventive, participatory, and punitive vigilance are the three forms of vigilance.
- Preventive Vigilance entails examining the organization, its policies, and its employees and putting in place efficient mechanisms to ensure that they do not become corruptible. It’s a powerful instrument in the battle against corruption since it improves on existing systems and incorporates built-in safeguards to increase clarity, standardization, and openness. As part of a preventative vigilance approach, systemic improvement in an institution creates a change that not only affects a core system/process that has been followed up to this point, but also enhances the efficacy of the whole institution.
- Participative Vigilance entails the involvement of all stakeholders and well-wishers both inside and outside the organization, for example, whistleblower policies and the Right to Information Act. However, this is purely optional and does not impose any responsibility to participate. Its goal is to involve all stakeholders, including the general public, in the decision-making process in order to increase openness.
- Punitive Vigilance is invoked when a crime has already been committed and a penalty has been imposed to serve as a deterrent to others. Its goal is to punish and discourage wrongdoing.
Management must constantly hold inspection of its people, men being inconsistent in their minds.Arthashastra
The anti-corruption measures of the Government of India (GOI) are the shared responsibility of:
- The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC)
- Disciplinary authorities
- Administrative Vigilance Division (AVD)
- Vigilance units in the Ministries, Central Public Sector Enterprises and other autonomous institutions
- Supervisory officers.
- Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)
Central Vigilance Commission (CVC)
The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) was established in 1964 in response to the recommendations of the Santhanam Committee on Corruption. Rather than being established by an act of parliament, it was established by a Cabinet Resolution. Eventually, its request for legal authority to conduct investigations was turned down. As a result, it remained dormant throughout its initial years.
It was only in Vineet Narain Vs Union of India[i], that the Supreme Court ordered a statutory status for the Commission. The Court further conferred the Commission with the authority to supervise the CBI while ensuring its performance and fairness and asked it to submit a report within three months.
The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) is not an investigating body. It can either commission an investigation through the Central Bureau of Investigation or by Departmental Chief Vigilance Officers. It can further order for an investigation only in cases of Central Government officials.
The Bombay High Court in Pravin Kumar Vs The State[ii], held that if the CVC is asked to undertake an inquiry or probe into a complaint, it is free to direct the C.B.I. to do so, since the latter has now been placed under the Central Vigilance Commission’s supervision.
However, the Supreme Court in Center for PIL & Ors Vs Union of India & Ors[iii], contemplated that the CVC cannot order the Delhi Special Police Establishment to probe or dispose of any matter in a specific manner when using its powers of supervision. In other words, the Central Vigilance Commission’s authority of superintendence cannot be utilised to interfere with the mode and technique of inquiry or consideration of any matter by the CBI.
However, it can initiate or call for an investigation into a complaint filed, under The Prevention of Corruption Act of 1988, by the Central Government alleging that a public servant has violated the law and has committed an offence.
It can also order an investigation into any complaint filed against any-
- Group ‘A’ Central Government Officials.
- Officials of any Corporation set up under any Central Legislation.
Disciplinary Authorities (DA)
The Disciplinary Authority (DA) in any organization refers to the power that has been conferred with the right to impose any punishment on its officials under the ambit of the organization’s disciplinary rules. DA is described as an authority authorized to impose any of the penalties listed under CCS (CCA) Rules, 1965 on any Government employee. In addition to this, The Disciplinary Authority is responsible for maintaining organizational discipline while dealing with wrongdoing by imposing appropriate sanctions.
After reviewing the Initial Inquiry or Investigation report, the Disciplinary Authority may determine whether specific departmental norms or directives have been broken or not, and whether formal Departmental action against the errant public worker is required or not.
The procedure, which is also known as Disciplinary Proceedings begins when the Disciplinary Authority decides to file charges against the errant official and serves him with a Memorandum of Charges. It comes to a conclusion when the final sentence of punishment is issued.
Administrative Vigilance Division (AVD)
In 1955, the Ministry of Home Affairs established the Administrative Vigilance Division as a central authority while conferring it with the ultimate responsibility for anti-corruption actions. It is responsible for all aspects of Administrative Vigilance, including CVC administration and All India Services.
Maintaining the bureaucracy’s professional ethics and standards is a crucial aspect of personnel management. The Department of Personnel and Training sets government policies for maintaining public service integrity and preventing corruption, as well as coordinating the work of other Departments and organizations in this field.
Maintaining the bureaucracy’s professional ethics and standards is a crucial aspect of personnel management. All Departments under the Government of India, including Ministries, bear immediate responsibility in ensuring the discipline and integrity of their employees by implementing preventative measures and eradicating corruption in their operating areas.
- It investigates allegations, accusations, and investigations against Chief Ministers and State Ministers.
- It can even initiate an inquiry into allegations of corruption and related issues.
- Prosecution of Chief Ministers and Ministers of State Governments through sanctions.
- It includes disciplinary actions against IAS officers for offences committed while on their duty at the Centre.
- Disciplinary incidents involving CSS personnel and Principal Private Secretaries of the Central Secretariat Stenographers Service (Grade I and above).
Vigilance Division of Institutions
The Central Vigilance Commission provides advice on all vigilance issues. It exercises authority over all things within the scope of the Central Government’s executive power. The Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO) is in charge of an organization’s vigilance unit and serves as an adviser to the chief executive on all vigilance problems. He also serves as a conduit between his organization and the Central Vigilance Commission and Central Bureau of Investigation, separately.
Once it has been approved that the claims made in the complaint should be investigated at the departmental level, the vigilance officer should conduct a preliminary investigation to see if the allegations have any validity at all. The investigation can be carried out in numerous ways depending upon their seriousness.
- If the accusations involve information that may be confirmed by any document, file, or other records, the vigilance officer should collect such papers, for personal examination at the earliest.
- If the claimed facts are likely to be recalled by other Department workers, then the inquiry officer should question them verbally or get written statements from them.
- In some sorts of complaints, the investigating officer may find it useful to conduct a site inspection, or a surprise check, to verify the facts on the spot and to take appropriate measures to ensure that the evidence gathered there is not tampered with.
A Supervisory Officer, regardless of the organization, has the responsibility to adopt all reasonable means to assure the integrity and commitment to duty of all officials under his supervision and command. All supervising officers have to acknowledge and report that all officers under their command preserve total integrity, failure to which attracts disciplinary action.
Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is the principal investigative authority and watchdog in our country, with the mission of combating the rising threat of corruption as well as investigating many other sorts of traditional crimes.
The CBI’s Anti-Corruption Unit is in charge of gathering intelligence on corrupt practices, maintaining cooperation and coordination with various departments through their Vigilance Officers, investigating and prosecuting corruption and bribery offences, and tasks relating to anti-corruption measures.
It is responsible for all cases filed under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, as well as offences under the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
CBI conducts inquiries or investigations into allegations of corruption and related misconducts after verifying information received or on the grounds of complaints referred to them by the Commission, administrative bodies, or even the courts.
- Unless there are particular grounds to the contrary, the complaints that are to be investigated are handed over to the Special Police Establishment (SPE) as soon as possible after a decision to refer the matter to them has been made.
- The C.B.I. may immediately register a Regular Case (R.C.) in circumstances where the material supplied appears to be authentic and specific enough to bring out a clear cognizable offence or to have adequate substance in it.
- A Preliminary Enquiry (P.E.) may be initiated in the first place if the information available seems to require confirmation before a formal investigation is launched. A regular case may be filed as soon as the preliminary investigation confirms that the claims made are true.
The Supreme Court in the case of Lalita Kumari Vs Govt. of UP & Ors.[iv], specified the kind of circumstances in which a preliminary Enquiry may be conducted. The Court made the registration of FIR mandatory for the commission of a cognizable offence before initiating a preliminary inquiry, failure of which may attract action against the police officer. It further highlighted the cases where preliminary inquiry could be made.
- The CBI must provide reports on complaints brought to it by the CVC for inquiry and reporting within six months.
- The inquiry of claims against officers either on suspension or about to retire should be given special attention so that the length of suspension is minimized to a bare minimum and the investigation report concerning retiring personnel may be processed in a timely manner.
- Recommendations from the Central Vigilance Commission to the CBI for explanations shall be returned to the Commission within six weeks.
Integrity and honesty are the cornerstones of effective government. The authority of vigilance is a pivotal function of management. There are several instances of good governance techniques in Indian history that have contributed to maintain public-sector ethics. Hence, it can be contended that good governance is built on the basis of righteousness.
The government’s institutions, methods, and procedures must be not only effective, but also ethical, equitable, and fair. Integrity must be a necessary component.
The task at hand is to establish an atmosphere in which the honest may operate without fear and the dishonest are swiftly punished.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jalaj Tokas is a second Year Law student pursuing B.A.LLB from University School of Law and Legal Studies, GGSIPU, New Delhi. He is a life-long learner is self driven towards his ambitions. He strongly believes that expectations are premeditated disappointments and strives not just to be successful but more importantly to be of value.
Edited by: Aashima Kakkar, Associate Editor, Law Insider
[i] Vineet Narain Vs Union of India (CWP 340-343 of 1993-1 SCC 226).
[ii] Pravin Kumar Vs The State, 2005 CriLJ 2714.
[iii] Center for PIL & Ors Vs Union Of India & Ors, CIVIL APPEAL NO.10660 OF 2010
[iv] Lalita Kumari Vs Govt. of UP & Ors. (2014) 2 SCC 1.