The Central Vigilance Commission has grounded anti-corruption watchdogs in government departments, banks and public sector undertakings.
The directive follows fears that letting the vigilance officers — mandated to check corruption in the public sector bodies — share the spoils of the system could blunt their teeth.
The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) passed fresh orders last week, imposing travel restrictions on chief vigilance officers (CVO) of government departments and public sector undertakings after it found several officers travelling abroad on training.
The CVC is the apex vigilance institution independent of any executive authority’s control. Besides supervising the functioning of the Central Bureau of Investigation, the commission also oversees the functioning of chief vigilance officers.
To keep the vigilance officers on a tight leash, the CVC made it mandatory for the officers to send a copy of their tour programmes to places other than their headquarters.
Officials said this would enable the CVC to determine exactly what the vigilance officers are up to when they go for official tours, and discourage officials from going on unnecessary trips.
The provocation came when CVC babus noticed many vigilance officers in public sector banks and companies were travelling abroad on official visits, often on training. But the purpose of the visit had nothing to do with vigilance management.
“It is not that we are against vigilance officers upgrading their skills abroad. But there already was a rule that the training should be relevant to vigilance administration and a similar training should not be available in India,” a CVC official said.
This rule was being blatantly violated.
“Some of the visits were for purposes which were neither relevant, nor related to the vigilance work of the CVOs,” J. Vinod Kumar, under secretary at the commission, said in a recent circular.
Central Vigilance Commissioner Pratyush Sinha is believed to have taken a dim view of the irregularities and cracked the whip.
Given how international training programmes and workshops are often used to return favours in the government sector, commission officials said the foreign or domestic visits — in the garb of training or otherwise — could be used as a bait, or a favour to compromise the independence of the vigilance officers.