Inquiries pending with Chandigarh vigilance dept double in a year

UT adviser attributes it to investigations being initiated in more complaints than earlier
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Updated on Feb 22, 2020 12:34 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | By, Chandigarh

The number of cases pending with the Chandigarh vigilance department has more than doubled in the past one year.

According to data accessed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, only 11 inquiries were pending with the department in 2018. The number rose to 23 at the end of 2019.

However, not all pending complaints were made in 2019. While nine are pending for more than two years, six complaints were made between one to two years back and eight within the past year.

“Initially, the department didn’t have exact details of the number of complaints pending with it. After an appeal, it finally calculated the total number of pending cases. This shows how serious the department is about carrying out inquiries,” said RTI activist RK Garg, who had sought the information after a long delay in an inquiry initiated on his complaint in 2018.

The local vigilance department entertains complaints against officials belonging to departments, public sector undertakings, co-operative organisations, autonomous organisations and local bodies under the Chandigarh administration. The complaints can pertain to specific corruption charges against officials, financial irregularities (for instance, leading to revenue loss), and other irregularities, such as in appointments.

“In February 2018, I made a complaint regarding financial irregularities in Society for Promotion of IT in Chandigarh (SPIC), and an inquiry was marked immediately by the chief vigilance officer (CVO). But even after nearly two years, the decision on investigation is still pending. It took nearly 18 months for the department to get comments from the SPIC officials in the case,” said Garg.

Other important cases in which inquiries are still pending include missing property tax documents of the Chandigarh municipal corporation, survey of street vendors and unauthorised installation of over 500 mobile towers.

“Instead of ignoring complaints, we have intensified action on them, and as a result more cases are under investigation,” said UT adviser Manoj Kumar Parida, who is also the CVO. “It is easier to close cases just to show better disposal of cases, but, we won’t do that.”

Parida said the administration is working on improving the investigation process and re-assessing the working of the department. “We will expedite the inquiries, and for achieving it, we will focus on major cases,” he said.

THE PROCESS

If a complaint contains specific and verifiable allegations of corruption/vigilance angle, and it is proposed to take cognisance of such complaints, the complaint is to be first sent to the complainant for owning/disowning, as the case may be.

If no response is received from the complainant within 15 days of sending the complaint, a reminder is to be sent. Fifteen days after sending the reminder, if still nothing is heard, the complaint may be filed as pseudonymous by the CVO concerned. In no case, any inquiry is initiated on complaints without receipt of confirmation from the complainant.

In other cases, complaints are referred to the department concerned for its comments. The reply has to be given in “reasonable” time. On conclusion of the probe, but before the final order, the matter is again referred to the Central Vigilance Commission for second-stage advice, and accordingly, the action is taken.

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