Well, if one is asked what is the biggest threat India is facing? A wise person, without the slightest bit of hesitation, would answer, corruption. And every citizen in India demands the elimination or mitigation of corruption. And this cannot be done without the establishment of a statutory body, whose aim would be to prevent corruption in the central government. So, that’s why the Central Vigilance Commission of India was established in February 1964.
*Vigilance- the action or state of keeping a careful watch for possible danger or difficulties.
The Central Vigilance Commission of India
Establishment and Empowerment of the Central Vigilance Commission of India
The Central Vigilance Commission of India was established, through an executive resolution of the Central Government of India, in February 1964. It was established by the recommendations of the Santhanam Committee on Prevention of Commission.
However, the Central Vigilance Commission wasn’t a statutory body before 2003. In 2003, the Parliament of India, through the Central Vigilance Commission Act of 2003, conferred statutory status to the Central Vigilance Commission.
And the CVC was further empowered to receive and act on complaints made by the whistleblowers, on the allegation of corruption or misuse of office, which can be done under the Public Interest Disclosure and Protection of Informer’s Resolution (PIDPI), also called the Whistleblowers resolution.
Most importantly, the Central Vigilance Commission of India is an apex vigilance institution, free of control from any executive authority. Hence, the CVC is a body independent of any Ministry or Department, only responsible to the Parliament of India. The CVC monitors all the vigilance activities under the Central Government of India. It also advises various authorities in Central Government organizations in planning, executing, reviewing, and reforming their vigilance work.
Composition of CVC
The Central Vigilance Committee consists of-
- Central Vigilance Commissioner, who is the chairperson
- Two Vigilance Commissioners (max)
The members are appointed by the President of India on the recommendation of the three-member committee consisting of the prime minister, union minister of home affairs, and the leader of opposition of the Lok Sabha.
The members of CVC are appointed for a period of 4 years, or till the age of 75, whichever comes earlier. And after their tenure at the CVC, the retired members cannot be further employed under the central or state government.
The Central Vigilance Commissioner or any of the two Vigilance Commissioners can be removed from office by the President of India if he/she-
- adjudged an insolvent;
- has been convicted of an offense which (in the opinion of the central government) involves moral turpitude;
- during his term in office, engages in any other paid employment outside the duties of his office;
- is (in the opinion of the president), unfit to continue due to infirmity of body or mind;
- has acquired such financial or other interest as is likely to affect prejudicially his official functions.
- The Central Vigilance Commissioner or any of the other vigilance commissioners can be removed by the President on the grounds of proved misbehavior or incapacity. In this case, the president has to refer the matter to the Supreme Court of India, which would conduct an inquiry. The commissioner can be removed only after the Supreme Court has enquired and upheld the cause of removal.
The salary, allowance, and other conditions of service of the Central Vigilance Commissioner are similar to the salary, allowance, and conditions of service of the chairman of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). And those of the vigilance commissioner is similar to the member of the UPSC.
Organization of the Central Vigilance Commission of India
The CVC is composed of-
- Commissioners for Departmental Inquiries
- Chief Technical Examiners’ Wing
Secretariat consists of Secretary, Joint Secretaries, Deputy Secretaries, Under Secretaries, and office staff.
Commissioners for Department Inquiries
The function of this department is to conduct oral inquiries in departmental proceedings against public servants.
Chief Technical Examiners’ Wing
The CTE is the technical wing of the Central Vigilance Commission of India which consists of Chief Engineers and supporting engineering staff. The functions of the CTE are-
- Auditing of the construction works of government organizations, from the point of view of vigilance.
- Investigating the cases of complaints relating to construction works.
- Assisting the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in investigations relating to technical matters and for the evolution of properties in Delhi.
- Advising and assisting the Central Vigilance Officers in cases involving technical matters.
Functions of the Central Vigilance Commission of India
- It conducts an inquiry or investigation on a reference made by the Central Government, where it alleges that a public servant, employed under the central government or its authorities, has committed an offence, under the Prevention of Corruption Act of 1988.
- To conduct an inquiry or investigation into any complaint against an officer belonging to the members of all India services serving in Union or group ‘A’ officers of central government; specified level of officers of the authorities of the central government, when there’s an allegation that the officer had committed an offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act of 1988.
- To supervise the Central Bureau of Investigation in the investigation of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
- The Central Vigilance Commission of India is also empowered to give directions and review the progress of the CBI in the investigation of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act of 1988.
- To advise the Central Government and its authorities on matters which are transferred to it by them.
- To inquire into complaints received under the Protection of Informers’ Resolution and Public Interest Disclosure, and also recommend the appropriate actions.
- To supervise the Vigilance administration in ministries of the Central Government or its authorities.
- The Central Government, on recommendations of the Central Vigilance Commissioner and the two Vigilance Commissioners along with their Secretaries, appoints the Director of Enforcement.
- The Central Vigilance Committee, after consultation with the Director of Enforcement, recommends officers for the appointment to posts above the level of Deputy Director of Enforcement.
- The Central Vigilance Commission of India is the specified authority for receiving information related to suspicious transactions under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act of 2002.
*Amendments in these above-mentioned acts were made by the Lokpal and Lokauktas Act, 2013.
- The Central Government of India would appoint the Director of Prosecution under the Directorate of Prosecution in CBI, on the recommendations of the Central Vigilance Commission of India.
- The Selection Committee, on whose recommendations the appointment of officers to the post of the level of SP and above in the CBI (except the Director of CBI) are made by the Central Government of India, consists of-
- Central Vigilance Commissioner as Chairperson
- Two Vigilance Commissioners, along with the Secretaries of M/o Home Affairs and D/o Personnel and Training as members of the committee
- Through the Act, the Central Vigilance Commission of India is empowered to conduct a preliminary inquiry into complaints referred to it by the Lokpal in respect to the officers and officials of Groups A, B, C, and D for which a Directorate of Inquiry for making a preliminary inquiry is to be set up by the commission.
Working of the Central Vigilance Commission of India
Headquarters of the CVC
The headquarters of the Central Vigilance Commission of India is located in New Delhi. The CVC conducts its proceedings from its headquarters.
Powers of CVC
- The Central Vigilance Commission has all powers of a Civil Court and its proceeding has a judicial character.
- The CVC is empowered to demand or call for information or reports from the Central Government of India or its authorities, in order to exercise supervision over the vigilance and anti-corruption work in them.
- The CVC, on receipt of the report of the inquiry undertaken by any agency on a reference made by it, advises the Central Government or its authorities to further course of action.
- The Central Government or its authorities shall consider the advice of the Central Vigilance Commission, and if the Central Government or its authorities refuse to agree with its advice, a written recording of reasons shall be communicated to the CVC.
Responsibility to the President and Houses of Parliament
The Central Vigilance Committee of India is responsible to the President of India to present before him/her, an annual report on its performance. The President of India then places this annual report before both houses of the Parliament (Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha)
Jurisdiction of the Central Vigilance Commission of India
The Central Vigilance Commission has jurisdiction over the-
- members of the All India Services serving in connection with the affairs of the Union and Group ‘A’ officers of the Central Government of India;
- officers of the rank of Scale V and above in the Public Sector Banks;
- officers in Grade ‘D’ and above in the Reserve Bank of India, NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development), and SIDBI (Small Industries Development Bank of India);
- Chief Executives and Executives on the Board and other officers of E-8 and above in Schedule ‘A’ and ‘B’ Public Sector Undertakings;
- Chief Executives and Executives on the Board and other officers of E-7 and above in Schedule ‘C’ and ‘D’ Public Sector Undertakings;
- managers and above in the General Insurance Companies;
- Senior Divisional Managers and above in the LIC (Life Insurance Corporation);
- officers drawing a salary of INR 8700/- per month and above on Central Government D.A. (Dearness Allowance), which may be revised from time to time, in societies and local authorities owned or controlled by the Central Government.
Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO) in the Ministries
All the Ministries of the Union Government of India have a Chief Vigilance Officer, who is the head of the Vigilance Divison of that particular organ. The Chief Vigilance Officer assists and advises the Head of Office in matters relating to vigilance. The CVO also acts as a link between his/her organization and the Central Vigilance Commission of India. Moreover, the CVO also provides a link between his/her organization and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Other functions performed by the Chief Vigilance Officer include-
- The CVO collects intelligence about the corrupt practices of the employees of his/her organization.
- Investigating the allegations reported on him
- The CVO is involved in the processing of the investigation reports, which are meant for further considerations by the concerned disciplinary authority.
- The CVO may also refer a matter to the Central Vigilance Commission of India for advice wherever necessary.
Whistle Blowers Protection Act of 2014
*Whistle Blower- a person who exposes information or activity within a private, public, or government organization that is deemed illegal, illicit, unsafe, or abuse of taxpayers’ funds.
- The main objective of the Whistle Blowers Protection Act of 2014 is to protect the identity of the whistle blowers so that they could be free from any fear.
- Moreover, the Act also provides for a system that could incentivize people to disclose information about corruption or wilful misuse of power by public servants, including ministers.
- Through this act, a person can make public interest disclosure on corruption before the Central Vigilance Commission of India. However, the Government has the power to appoint any other body to receive such complaints.
- And in the case of false or frivolous complaints, the Act provides for punishment of two years in prison and a fine of up to INR 30,000/-
- The disclosure shall be made in good faith, and the person making the disclosure should provide a personal declaration, stating that he reasonably believes that the information disclosed by him and information contained therein is substantially true.
- Disclosures can be made in writing or by email.
- The Act also provides that no action shall be taken on a disclosure that does not indicate the identity of the complainant or public servant or if the identity of the complainant or public servant is found to be incorrect.
- The Act is not applicable to the Special Protection Group.
Current Central Vigilance Commissioner of India
Suresh N. Patel is the current Central Vigilance Commissioner of India since 25th June 2021.