Thursday, April 14, 2011

Problems in the present anti-corruption systems of India

There are many corrupt government officials in India. In order to understand why they flourish we need to understand the Problems in the present anti-corruption systems at both, the Central and State Government levels in India

Today's post is taken from the following link:

This post is to pique interest in "India Against Corruption" an organisation which has put forward recommendations to make the fight against government corruption slightly more foolproof. The government is fighting tooth and nail not to implement these recommendations or to delay implementing them or to change them slightly so that the recommendations remain ineffective. It is doing so because these recommendations would implicate too many of its party and coalition party members. These recommendations take into account the safety of whistleblowers and would ensure that the anticorruption agencies remain independent of the very government officials they are supposed to investigate.

More and more Indians should join "India Against Corruption" After all, whose voice is more effective? A billion lone individuals or a billion strong force?

At Central Government level, we have the following anti corruption agencies
1. Central Vigilance Commission - CVC,
2. Departmental vigilance - DVO and
3. Central Bureau of Investigation - CBI.

Here's a brief discussion of why they are ineffective.

Central Vigilance Commission (CVC):

CVC is the apex body for all vigilance cases in the Government of India. Although CVC is relatively independent in its functioning, it neither has resources nor powers to enquire and take action on complaints of corruption in a manner that meets the expectations of people.

E.g. 1. CVC can only recommend and advice the Central Government Departments who is free to accept or reject its advice.

E.g.2. It has a staff of less than 200 employees which has to check corruption in more than 1500 central government departments and ministries. Some of these ministries are huge e.g. to name just three - Railways, Central Excise and Income Tax.

E.g. 3. Due to lack of manpower the CVC forwards most of the complaints to the vigilance wings of these very departments - (Departmental Vigilance or DVO). You can imagine what happens to these complaints once they are in the hands of the very ones against whom the complaint is – delay tactics, scuttling of the complaint, transferring of vigilance officers or even firing them (see next point)

E.g.4. There are certain areas where the CVC have no powers
• CVC does not have administrative control over officials in vigilance wings of various central government departments to which it forwards corruption complaints. All officials except the Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO) are appointed/transferred by this very government department. How easy is it to transfer or even fire an official who doesn’t toe the departmental line? So the Departmental Vigilance is just a mockery where senior officials of the department are concerned.

• CVC does not have powers to register criminal cases. That is done by the CBI. CVC deals only with vigilance or disciplinary matters.

• It does not have powers over politicians. If there is an involvement of a politician, CVC can, at best, bring it to the notice of the Government. There are several cases of serious corruption in which officials and political executive are involved together. What’s more, appointments to CVC are directly under the control of the ruling political party.

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)

CBI has powers of a police station to investigate and register FIR. It can investigate any case related to a Central Government department on its own or any case referred to it by any state government or any court.

The problems it faces:

• CBI is overburdened and does not accept cases where a citizen has accused that amounts as much as Rs 1 crore have been defalcated or embezzled.

• What’s worse, CBI is directly under the administrative control of Central Government. So, if a complaint pertains to any minister or politician who is part of a ruling coalition or a bureaucrat who is close to them, CBI's credibility has suffered and there is increasing public perception that it cannot do a fair investigation and that it is influenced to scuttle these cases.

• Again, because CBI is directly under the control of Central Government, CBI is perceived to have been often used to settle scores against inconvenient politicians.

Therefore, if a citizen wants to make a complaint about corruption by a politician or an official in the Central Government, there isn’t a single anti-corruption agency which is effective and independent of the government, whose wrongdoings are sought to be investigated. CBI has powers but it is not independent. CVC is independent but it does not have sufficient powers or resources.

(For a more detailed report of the exact problems faced by the anti-corruption agencies and the recommendations made by “India Against Corruption” go to: )

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