DEHRADUN: There are no guidelines to handle complaints of corruption and other misconduct against central vigilance commissioner/vigilance commissioners, according to an RTI reply.
In the RTI reply, the Union Ministry of Personnel, PG & Pensions, Department of Personnel & Training
The RTI application was filed by Sanjiv Chaturvedi, Magsaysay Award winner (2015) Indian Forest Services officer of 2002 batch. At present, he is posted chief conservator of forests in the research wing of the Uttarakhand forest department in the Nainital district of Haldwani city.
Chaturvedi had filed the RTI query on former graft-accused CVC K V Chowdary. The reply by the Union Ministry dated September 28, 2020, also mentions that there are four complaints against former CVC K V Chowdary between January 2014 to August 2020.
Chowdary was the CVC from June 2015 to June 2019 and joined Reliance as an independent director after his retirement.
The RTI reply also stated that the 'grievances' against the CVC have been 'forwarded' to the secretary, Central Vigilance Commission for 'appropriate action'.
The Central Vigilance Commission Act 2003 has been in place for more than 16 years now without any guidelines regarding the corrupt officials.
This 'absence of guidelines' is rendering complaints and allegations of corruption, irregularities and misconduct by the CVC to be left unquestioned.
Section 6|(1) of the Central Vigilance Commission Act, 2003 states "Central Vigilance Commissioner or any Vigilance Commissioner shall be removed from his office only by order of the President on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity after the Supreme Court, on a reference made to it by the President, has, on inquiry, reported that the Central Vigilance Commissioner or any Vigilance Commissioner, as the case may be, ought on such ground be removed".
Commenting on the issue, Justice RS Sodhi, former Delhi High Court judge said, "If at all there is a grey area in the interpretation of the law then interpretation has to be primarily in face of aims and objects of the Act. Wrongdoing cannot be allowed to perpetuate and must be settled at the earliest. The wrongdoer must be brought within the framework of law and dealt with accordingly."
Earlier in the year 2018 too, the Center replied the same to the RTI query filed by Chaturvedi stating that "presently, there are no guidelines to handle complaints of corruption and other misconduct against Chief Vigilance Commissioner/Vigilance Commissioners are in place."
The RTI reply from 2018 also added that a 'process for framing guidelines to handle grievances/complaints against Chief Vigilance Commissioner/Vigilance Commissioners has been initiated by DoPT'.
In 2017, Chaturvedi, in his 1,000-page complaint to the President of India mentioned six instances of misconduct in detail about irregularities and corruption by Chowdary and requested him to take action under section 6|(1) of CVC Act, 2003.
Chaturvedi, who was posted as chief vigilance officer of All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi, from July 2012 to August 2014, mentioned in his complaint that the then CVC Chowdary had in 2016 decided to close the case related to corruption in Rs 7,000 crore infrastructure work in the AIIMS by going against the CBI's findings.
The CBI had registered a case against senior AIIMS official in January 2014 and in its report submitted to the Union health ministry in December 2014 recommended action against them.
The former IFS officer, in his complaint to the President, also added that the CVC ignoring its own instruction of March 2006 allowed the same persons who were indicted by the CBI on the basis of his inquiry, to write his annual confidential report for 2015-16.
He stated in his complaint, "In the process, they not only disregarded vital evidence including reports of their own technical wing but also straight away flouted provisions of its own vigilance manual and statutory rules of Central Government. There was such a hurry to close corruption cases disregarding CBI reports, that even approval of competent disciplinary authority was not taken and cases were closed through the fraudulent mentioning of wrong disciplinary authority."
In his reminder of the complaint later, Chaturvedi had written, “How long this process will last as DoPT had intimated the same status in October 2018 & then again in January 2019 and on this ground alone they have declined to process the complaint of undersigned, which otherwise was solely based on irrefutable documentary evidence. This de facto immunity granted to CVC is not only contrary to the provisions of parent Act- CVC Act, 2003 but also against basic principles of ‘rule of law’ and ‘accountability’ regarding the functioning of one of the most important public institution of the country, which is being run at great cost to the public exchequer.”
Chowdary's role was questioned as CVC in the case of former CBI director Alok Verma and special director Rakesh Asthana in 2018.
On the basis of Chowdary's report, the central government transferred Verma from the CBI as DG Fire Services, Civil Defence & Home Guards.
Later, the judge appointed by the Supreme Court to monitor the inquiry in the matter 'dissociated' himself from the CVC’s findings and stated that there was no evidence of corruption against Verma on the contrary to the then CVC Chowdary's report.
Verma, in his formal statement, had stated that as the CVC, Chowdary tried to play arbitrator for charge-sheeted CBI officer Asthana. He also added that Chowdary came to his house to discuss it.
Meanwhile, the government is observing Vigilance Awareness Week, as per the guidelines of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), from October 27 to November 2.