First ARC report proposes setting up of state vigilance commission

If the government gives its nod to the recommendations of the ARC, the state will soon have a body along the lines of the Central Vigilance Commission 

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The fourth Administrative Reforms Commission led by former chief minister V S Achuthanandan submitted its first report before Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday, proposing to set up a State Vigilance Commission along the lines of the Central Vigilance Commission. The panel has also suggested formulating a Vigilance Directorate in the state. Speaking after submitting the report, V S said the government should bring in a new legislation to facilitate formation of the vigilance commission and directorate. The ARC has also put forth a model draft legislation in this regard. 

The Act 

The ARC has suggested a legislation - The State Vigilance Commission & State Vigilance Police Establishment Act 2017 - to set up the vigilance commission and directorate. It’s meant to investigate alleged offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 by certain categories of public servants of the state government, corporations established by or under any statute, government companies, societies and local authorities, other institutions owned or controlled by the state government, public servants under the Kerala Lok Ayukta Act 1999, Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 and such other public servants notified by the state government from time to time. 

State Vigilance Commission

The commission should have a State Vigilance Commissioner as chairperson and not more than two vigilance commissioners as members. The State Commissioner should be a serving or retired High Court judge who has held the office of High Court judge for not less than five years. The commissioners should be appointed from those - (a) who have held the post of chief secretary or additional chief secretary of a state government; (b) who have held the post of DGP or ADGP with experience and expertise in vigilance investigation. 

The upper age limit of the commissioners should be 65 years at the time of appointment. Also, a secretary should be appointed to the commission from a panel of three officers not below the rank of a secretary/special secretary to the government, forwarded by the commission. 

As far as the salary and allowances and other conditions of service are concerned, those of the State Vigilance Commissioner should be equivalent to that of the High Court Chief Justice. Those of the commissioners will be equivalent to that of High Court judges. The State Commissioner or other commissioners can be removed from office only by the order of the Governor on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity after the High Court on a reference made by the Governor report that the commissioners ought to be removed. 

‘Modernised probe system needed’

In its proposal before the government, the administrative reforms panel pointed to the need to have a monitoring mechanism for state vigilance. The commission observed, currently, the VACB functions under a director and he is the only authority to order investigations into various cases.   
“Such investigations and legally invalid actions have been creating many issues. This also leads to innocent officials being made scapegoat. Even though there’s an Apex Court verdict in this regard, many a time, proceedings and investigations are carried out in a mechanical way. These incidents point to the need for a modernised investigation system,” observed the Administrative Reforms Commission. 

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