The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) is a landmark institution. By the middle of the 1960s the Central Government felt that drastic action needs to be taken against pervasiveness of corruption. The jurisdiction of the CVC spreads over the Union government employees, employees of all public undertakings, numerous other corporate bodies. The jurisdiction of the CVC is spread over many other organisations who deal with the Central Government matters. The Delhi Municipal Corporation and New Delhi Municipal Committee come under the jurisdiction of CVC. The CVC can be compared with the Swedish institution of ombudsman.
From the report of the Santhanam Committee we get the following functions:
The chief function of the CVC is to free Indian society from the deep rooted evils of corruption. To that end if can start inquiry against any grievance raised by people or organisation. The grievance may be regarding the functions of Civil servant or any particular branch of public administration. The CVC thoroughly investigates various aspects of the grievance.
The CVC has been empowered to call for reports or information or facts from the concerned person or department. The person or organisation is legally bound to furnish information. If the CVC feels that there is sufficient truth in the complaint and it requires further investigation then the CVC may refer the matter to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The CVC investigates the sources of grievance and if there is any truth in the complaint the CVC submits its report to the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Home Minister places the report before each house of parliament.
There is a man at the head of the CVC and he is known as Central Vigilance Commissioner. He is appointed by the President. The CVC has a separate secretariat to assist him in the discharge of his functions. The Central Vigilance Commission is not a statutory body because its advices or suggestions are not mandatory for the government which means that the government may or may not accept the suggestion.
There are three stages of the CVC:
First is, it receives complaints from individuals or corporate bodies or organisations.
In the Second stage the CVC investigates, and in the final stage it prepares a report. The CVC is, however, an independent and autonomous body. But it cannot be compared with the Swedish system of ombudsman. The latter is a very powerful person.
According to the CVC there are about thirty types of corruption or corrupt practices. In order to enlighten the readers some may be mentioned, embezzlement of public fund, to give or take favours to or from the contractors, irregularities in the discharge of government responsibility, to distribute favours to relative or other persons by violating government rules and procedures, to take or give bribes.
Moral turpitude is also treated by the commission as an offence and hence it is punishable. Mohit Bhattacharya in his assessment of the CVC says: “The Central Vigilance Commission is certainly no substitute for an ombudsman. As it is constituted, the commission is virtually an extension of the bureaucratic apparatus of the central government and its operations are very much hedged in the overpowering ministers and the political forces”. The same opinion has been expressed by several other critics. Since like Election Commission it is not a constitutional authority, its findings and suggestions, in numerous cases, go unheeded. This is the most tragic aspect of the CVC.
We believe that in order to make the CVC an effective body it should be kept outside the tremendous influence of powerful bureaucrats, ministers and party leaders. In the real sense the CVC will have power to uproot all types and forms of corruption. Since its recommendations are nor mandatory the letharginess on the part of government may foil the good motive of the CVC. We feel the Central Government or the top echelon of bureaucracy must be in all sincerity determined to uproot corruption from social and political life. But this type of mentality is almost absent.
Even after the constitution of Central Vigilance Commission, India tops the list of the corrupt countries of the world. The stark reality is that nobody takes corruption as a serious evil and some powerful persons (who have the power to stop corrupt practices) are showing lackadaisical attitude towards this most serious matter. The inevitable consequence is that corruption is getting flabby day after day. We can say that the Central Vigilance Commission is a window dressing in our social and political system.
The functioning of the CVC ultimately proved that it was inadequate to deal with the proper redressal of grievances. Considering the pervasiveness of corruption the Central Government decided to take further and bolder steps to fight corruption. The government of India set up an Administrative Reforms Commission in 1966. The chief purpose is to take effective steps for the redressal of grievances of citizens. It was found that the CVC could not reach the goals or objectives for which it was created.
The Administrative Reforms Commission in its Interim Report said; “After having carefully evaluated the pros and cons…………………………… we are of the view that the special circumstances relating to our country can be fully met by providing for two special institutions for the redressal of citizens’ grievances. There should be one authority dealing with complaints against the administrative acts of ministers or secretaries to government at the centre and in states.
There should be another authority in each state and at the centre for dealing with the complaints against the administrative acts of the other officials” one institution is called Lokpal and the other is called the Lokayukta. These two institutions, the ARC has suggested, must be independent of the executive organ of government. The ARC fully realised that a fully independent body with sufficient power and authority can meet the demands of people and can remove grievances against authority.