Tuesday 20 October 2020

Amit Shah: Departments drag feet about action against corrupt officials

Union Home Minister Amit Shah is unhappy that departments under him are not completing probes against officers facing allegations of corruption or administrative lapses in time and has “strictly” ordered them to follow the rules.

A communication sent to all the divisions and organisations that come under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said “It is observed by the home minister that the prescribed schedule of time limits in conducting investigations and departmental inquiries are not being followed by the departments/divisions as per the instructions issued by Central Vigilance Commission (CVC)”.

According to the guidelines issued by CVC in May 2000 on schedule of time limits on departmental investigations, once a complaint is received against an officer in any government department, a decision has to be taken within a month whether it involves a vigilance aspect or not and the departmental probe should be completed within six months.

The letter sent to all home ministry’s divisions and chief vigilance officers (CVOs) of all departments on behalf of Shah stated that there should be strict compliance of the guidelines.

The departments which report to Shah include all central paramilitary forces such as the Border Security Force (BSF), the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), the Indo-Tibet Border Police (ITBP), the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), Assam Rifles, the National Security Guard (NSG), the Intelligence Bureau (IB), the National Intelligence Grid (Natgrid), the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD), the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the National Civil Defence College (NCDC) etc.

The divisions in the MHA under Shah’s authority are the union territories of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) and Ladakh, left-wing extremism (LWE), border management, foreigners’ division, cyber crime, Centre-state division, prisons and others that are crucial in making day-to-day decisions on internal security.

Officials familiar with the development, who didn’t wish to be named, said many investigations linger on for years.

As reported by media in August, the anti-corruption watchdog – Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) – had written to all CVOs in all ministries and government departments to complete the disciplinary proceedings against officers facing probe for corruption or administrative lapses in time even if they have to be conducted through video-conference because of the unprecedented coronavirus disease pandemic.

CVOs posted in every government department are responsible for finalising a disciplinary proceeding against officials indulging in any activity in violation of the norms or forwarding corruption complaints to CVC in a bid to ensure that a probe by CBI can be requested, if required.

CVC has repeatedly reminded government departments to finish their disciplinary proceedings in time.

A July 2018 letter written by CVC to all departments stated that “the unexplained delays lead to Central Administrative Tribunals (CATs) and the high courts quashing the charge sheet (s) on the sole ground that the disciplinary authorities concerned had issued charge sheets to the delinquents (officers under investigation) after very long periods of commission of alleged misconduct etc and also for unexplained delays in conducting disciplinary enquiries”.

“Such long delays in finalising disciplinary matters are not just unjust to officials who may be finally exonerated, but help the guilty to evade punitive action,” CVC had said.

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