The Central Vigilance Commission is the supreme vigilance institutional body in our country and is not under the control of any executive body. It is responsible for the monitoring of all the vigilance activities as a part of the Central Government of India. Moreover, the CVC advises the Central Government to plan, coordinate, execute, and reform its vigilance work.
Now, you might question the term vigilance. Vigilance means transparent and prompt administrative action, which is essential to achieve efficiency and the effectiveness of the employees in relation to a particular organisation.
The Government of India set up the CVC in February 1964 on the basis of recommendations by the Committee headed by Shri K Santhanam on the Prevention of Corruption.
In 2003, the Parliament passed the Central Vigilance Commission Act, which provided statutory status on the central vigilance commission.
Currently, the CVC is not under the control of any ministry or department. It is an independent body in itself and is accountable to the Parliament.
Central Vigilance Commission Act: History
The Government of India set up the Special Police Establishment (SPE) in 1941. Originally, the functions of the SPE were to investigate cases pertaining to corruption and bribery with respect to transactions with the War and Supply Department of India during World War II.
Though the war ended, the Central Government felt that an agency should be there to investigate bribery and corruption cases. Thus, the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act (DPSE) was enacted in 1946.
Once the DPSE was brought into force, the superintendence of the Special Police Establishment was being transferred to the Home Department. The jurisdiction was extended to all Union territories and also provided the extension to states but with the consent of the state government.
However, it was felt that there was a requirement for a Central Police Agency which would not only look into cases related to bribery and corruption but also certain other cases like those of passport frauds, crime on high seas, crimes on airlines and any violation of central fiscal laws etc.
Thus, on the recommendations of the Santhanam Committee on the Prevention of Corruption, the Home Affairs Ministry established the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) by a resolution on April 1, 1963. Eventually, it was transferred to the Ministry of Personnel, and currently, it functions as an attached office.
In 1964, the Central Vigilance Commission was set up on the basis of the recommendations given by the Santhanam Committee. However, in 1997 the Supreme Court, in the decisive judgement of Vineet Narain & Other vs Union of India, gave direction that in case the role regarding Central Bureau of Investigation was criticised, the Central Vigilance Commission should be provided with a supervisory role above the CBI.
In 1998, the central government promulgated an Ordinance that conferred statutory status to the Central Vigilance Commission. It also gave the CVC the powers to exercise supervisory function over the DPSE and also regarding reviewing the progress of investigations related to the offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988.
The statutory status to the Commission was given with the enactment of the Central Vigilance Commission Act, 2003.
After the Central Vigilance Commission Act 2003 was enacted, the Commission became a multi-member body consisting of the Central Vigilance Commissioner, who is the chairperson and not more than two vigilance commissioners who are to be appointed by the President.
With time and various other ordinances as well as legislation, the government has enhanced the functions and powers of the Commission.
The Parliament, in 2013, enacted the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013. This act also amended the original Central Vigilance Commission Act 2003, thereby empowering the Commission to conduct a preliminary inquiry as well as further investigation for complaints that the Lokpal referred to.
The Central Vigilance Commission: Structure and Functions
This Commission consists of a Central Vigilance Commissioner (Chairperson) and up to two members called Vigilance Commissioners.
The President appoints the Vigilance Commissioners and the Central Vigilance Commissioner on recommendations by another committee constituting the Prime Minister (Chairperson), the Leader of Opposition (Member), and the Minister of Home Affairs (Member).
The Vigilance Commissioners and the Central Vigilance Commissioner have a term of four years starting from the date of entering office till their age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.
The Chief Technical Examiners’ Wing (CTE), Commissioners of Departmental Inquiries Wing, and Secretariat make up the Central Vigilance Commission. For investigation-related activity, the CVC relies on two external sources: Chief Vigilance Officers and the CBI.
The Secretariat consists of 4 Additional Secretaries, 30 Directors or Deputy Secretaries (2 officers on special duty), and 4 Under Secretaries and office staff.
Chief Technical Examiners’ Organisation (CTEO)
This is CVC’s technical wing, and it is led by two Chief Engineers (as CTEs), with additional engineers serving as support staff.
Their key responsibilities include:
Conducting investigations into cases, including complaints about construction projects
Assisting the CBI in conducting technical investigations and evaluating Delhi properties
Providing CVOs and the Commission with technical vigilance case advice or assistance
Commissioners for Departmental Inquiries (CDIs)
Out of the 14 posts of Commissioners for Departmental Inquiries (CDI), 11 are in the ranks of Director, and the remaining three are in the ranks of Deputy Secretary.
This department conducts oral inquiries as Inquiry Officers in the departmental proceedings against public servants.
Integrity Index Development (IID)
The integrity index development is an index that reflects transparency, accountability and effective governance of various public organisations.
CVC appointed IIM – A to conduct research on how to create an integrity index for organisations to measure themselves, which will also be dynamic enough to evolve with the changing requirements.
India is progressing on the path of rapid economic development and infrastructure growth; hence the country needs a strong vigilance authority like the Central Vigilance Commission to fight the shadows of corruption that may arise.