As per the latest information available with the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), 25 cases involving 55 officials are pending for sanction for prosecution from various central government departments. The Ministry of Personnel directly under the Prime Minister leads the list with five such pending cases.
The Narendra Modi government finally appointed Mr. K.V. Chowdary, retired Chairman of Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) as the Chief Vigilance Commissioner, after the post was vacant for close to 9 months. The government has come under criticism over both the delay and the appointment itself.
The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) was established in 1964, as an apex body for exercising superintendence and control over vigilance administration, through the Government of India Resolution. The main mandate of the Commission was based on the report of the Committee on Prevention of Corruption, popularly known as the Santhanam Committee. The establishment of the Commission was considered essential for evolving and applying common standards in deciding cases involving lack of probity and integrity in administration. Subsequent to the directions of Hon’ble Supreme Court in the judgement of the Writ Petition filed in public interest by Shri Vineet Narain and others in Jain Hawala Case, the Government promulgated an Ordinance in 1998. The Ordinance of 1998 conferred statutory status to the CVC.
On multiple occasions, the Supreme Court has issued guidelines to the Government directing them to grant sanction for the prosecution of a public servant under section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act within a period of three months (4 months in special cases) of the receipt of the proposal by the concerned authority like the CVC. Government departments have violated this guideline consistently irrespective of the party in power. It is even more surprising that the NDA government that rode to power on an anti corruption plank, is sitting on more than 20 cases without granting sanction for prosecution.
The Pending Cases
The CVC publishes the list of Ministry/ Department wise summary of cases pending sanction for prosecution over four months. As per the list published by the CVC, 25 cases involving 55 officials are pending for sanction for prosecution over four months. In 20 of these cases, the sanction was solicited after the NDA government came to power.
Incidentally, the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions directly under the Prime Minister leads the list with 5 cases pending for sanction. Three of these cases are pending for over 30 months now. The Ministry of Railways, Finance and CBDT follow with two cases pending each. Ministry of Home Affairs, Petroleum & Natural Gas, Urban Development, Labour & Employment, Information & Broadcasting, South Delhi Municipal Corporation have one pending case each. The rest of the eight cases are pending from Public Sector Banks like the State Bank of India, IDBI, Punjab National Bank etc.
The average duration for which a case is pending for sanction is about 12 months or a year while the Supreme Court mandated three months as the time frame. In four of these cases, sanction was first sought in the year 2012. The sanction is awaited for more than 12 months on 6 of these 25 cases. Two of these cases from 2012 involve nine IAS officers from the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh.
Let’s hope that the government walks the talk in its fight against corruption by immediately granting sanction for prosecution of these 55 officials.