Don’t wait for last leg of service to probe govt officials: CVC directive
In his first major directive since taking over the new Chief Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) last month, Sanjay Kothari has instructed all ministries and government departments to conduct internal investigations or disciplinary proceedings against public servants much before they are due to retire. The Chief Vigilance Officers (CVOs) and administrative authorities have also been asked to send requests for investigation of such officers to CVC by the first week of the month in which they are supposed to retire.
CVC, the apex vigilance body that vets complaints related to corruption or disciplinary action against government employees, has been reminding ministries and departments since 2007 to prioritize the cases against officers “due to retire shortly”. The last time such a reminder was sent was in July 2019 -- and it went along with a warning that action will be taken against erring CVOs, as first reported by HT.
“There is no progress and ministries/CVOs continue to delay disciplinary proceedings/actions or investigations against public servants. This benefits that particular public servant as CVC is not usually able to give its advice in time. Some references are sent to us a few days before the retirement,” said a CVC official who didn’t wish to be named.
He added that central public sector units (CPSUs) and public sector banks (PSBs) are the worst offenders wen it comes to this -- sending vigilance and investigation cases to the commission seeking its advice at the last moment.
“Disciplinary proceedings at the fag end of a public servant’s career are of no use. If there is a complaint much before, CVOs should act so that action can be taken while the person is still in service,” said another CVC officer who asked not to be named.
CVOs posted in every government department are responsible for finalising a disciplinary proceeding against officials indulging in any activity in violation of the norms or forwarding serious corruption complaints to CVC so that a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) can be requested if required.
In its letter to all the government departments last week, which has been reviewed by HT, CVC said: “The Commission, vide its letters in 2007, 2011 and 2019, had directed CVOs of all ministries/departments/organizations to ensure expeditious finalization of disciplinary proceedings/action, particularly in respect of officials likely to retire shortly”.
“The Commission had specifically impressed upon the vigilance functionaries as well as administrative authorities concerned the need to prioritize the activities of conducting investigations and completion of disciplinary action well in advance so as to avoid such late references to the Commission,” it added.
Departments and ministries have been asked to send all retirement cases for its advice by 5 pm on the 10th of every month.
CVC is a statutory body and derives its powers from Central Vigilance Commission Act, 2013. It is free of control from any executive authority and has the responsibility of monitoring all vigilance activities in the federal government besides advising various authorities on planning, executing, reviewing and reforming their vigilance work. A major part of its work is to refer important corruption activities to CBI
R S Sharma, former Chairman and Managing Director of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) said: “A public servant gets all his provident fund or gratuity benefit when he is retiring. If any complaint pertaining to disciplinary proceedings against him/her is not processed in time, CVC may not be able to complete its investigation in time and minor or major penalty cannot be given.”