Timely supervision on multi-crore scams being probed by the CBI and a slew of measures to check corruption in government departments kept the Central Vigilance Commission, working without its regular chief, in news this year.
Acting tough on graft complaints, the CVC referred various cases of corruption to the CBI for detailed probe and sought strict vigilance mechanism for country’s regulators including Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), Forward Markets Commission (FMC) and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).
Former Central Industrial Security Force chief Rajiv, who is currently acting as interim head of the CVC, was appointed as Vigilance Commissioner in the Commission in February.
There is a Central Vigilance Commissioner, assisted by two Vigilance Commissioners in the CVC. However, the post of chief and one of the Commissioners is lying vacant for about three months now.
The CVC, which exercises superintendence over CBI to oversee probe in corruption cases, investigated Commonwealth Games (CWG) related irregularities, monitored probe in multi-crore coal blocks and 2G spectrum allocation scams.
The Commission opposed closure of several Preliminary Enquiries registered by CBI in the multi-crore coal blocks allocation and submitted its findings to the Supreme Court. The apex court had on March 28 asked CVC to peruse the coal blocks allocation cases in which there was a difference of opinion within CBI on their closure.
The probity watchdog also issued guidelines to all government departments to ensure transparency and fair play while inviting bid documents or floating tenders for all procurement and contractual works.
It directed officials dealing with disciplinary and corruption cases involving their subordinates to issue “self-contained” orders against corrupt or undisciplined government employees with “due application of mind”.
During the year, the Commission wrote to the Department of Personnel and Training, which acts as nodal department for it, seeking touch anti-corruption measures in various regulatory bodies including SEBI and FMC.
It also intervened in the matter of alleged irregularities in appointments of board level functionaries in public sector banks and sought clarification from the Finance Ministry.
To better help in resolving financial corruption cases, the CVC formed an advisory board to assist it and the CBI in examining matters related to bank and commercial frauds.
It also sought powers from the government to take action against Chairman and Managing Directors and Executive Directors of public sector banks and insurance companies if they are found involved in corruption.
The move came following complaints of alleged corruption by these top officials. It was observed that the existing standard terms and conditions of appointment of whole time directors i.e. board level officers of public sector banks, insurance companies etc., do not have a specific provision for initiating disciplinary action while in service and hence, further powers were sought, official sources said.
The CVC also started an online mechanism to provide vigilance clearance for posting, promotion and empanelment of senior government officials.
The clearance by the Commission is needed for senior level positions or empanelment and also for board-level appointments in the Public Sector Undertakings, etc. For this, CBI is required to provide inputs on officers being considered for such appointments to the anti-corruption watchdog.
The CVC also relaxed a rule to do away with second stage consultation with it before imposing punishment on corrupt officials, in order to speed up probe in corruption cases.
The agency is being consulted at two stages in vigilance cases or disciplinary proceedings — first, advice is obtained on the investigation reports and the second advice is obtained before a final decision is taken at the conclusion of the proceedings.
In a recent initiative, the CVC issued guidelines to check tax evasion by contractors. Tax liability of government contractors or suppliers should be examined properly to check leakage of any revenue, it said in a circular to all central ministries and departments.
Meanwhile, the government has started the selection process for Central Vigilance Commissioner and Vigilance Commissioner and sought applications from eligible candidates including serving and retired bureaucrats, besides private persons.
Supreme Court is also hearing a case related to the lack of transparency in the appointment of the Central Vigilance Commissioner and Vigilance Commissioners.