The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has recorded in its annual report more than 50 cases of alleged corruption, nepotism, high-handedness and red-tapism in 2016 in which the government departments concerned failed to initiate action despite being alerted by the anti-corruption watchdog.
The report, which was submitted to the government this month, states that in many of these cases, the CBI initiated FIRs, recommended suspension of the officials involved and action against senior functionaries of these departments. However, the report states, its advice was ignored or not fully acted upon.
According to the CVC’s report, the maximum number of these cases were related to the Ministry of Railways (12), followed by PSU banks (7), Ministry of Civil Aviation (5) and Central Excise and Customs (4).
The report states that in one case involving the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), under the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH), the CBI registered a case against officials of Kandla Port Trust (KPT) for alleged irregularities in the grant of 129.9 metres of cargo berth without government approval and out-of-turn berthing to a few vessels through “dishonest means”.
“After completion of investigation, the CBI recommended action against the then Chairman of KPT among others following which CVC advised major penalty,” states the report.
“However, the commission was intimated by MoRTH in December 2016 that there has been neither mala-fide on the part of the official concerned nor any loss of revenue to the port, hence the disciplinary authority has not accepted the advice of the CVC/CBI for initiating penalty against the then Chairman, KPT and has decided to close the case,” it adds.
Among the other major cases red-flagged in the CVC report are:
* Ministry of Civil Aviation: The report has highlighted alleged irregularities in awarding contract for cockpit crew transportation in Air India. The CVC advised the imposition of major penalty stating that the process of award of contract to the private company allegedly showed blatant violation of rules, regulations and procedures, and bypassed prescribed channels, the report says. In disagreement, the government exonerated the officer and only withdrew passages and post-retirement medical benefits, it says.
* Delhi Development Authority: The report states that officers allegedly granted “undue favour” to a private school for allotment of land at Dwarka in New Delhi. CBI registered two FIRs and the CVC advised a major penalty and then a minor penalty against the two, it says. The case was, however, closed by the vice chairman, DDA without consulting CVC, states the report.
* Central Board of Excise and Customs: A Chennai private firm allegedly colluded with officials of the Customs Department, Office of the Assistant Drug Controller and Customs house agents in the import of drugs from China using 160 bills of entry valued at Rs 20 crore without obtaining the valid registration certificate and licence. The report states that the importer willfully evaded payment of Rs 1.26 crore towards mandatory registration fee and licence fee. The CBI registered four FIRs against 17 officials but were denied sanction of prosecution by CBEC, who also ignored the CVC’s advice for major penalty, the report states.
* Indian Council of Agricultural Research: The report states that a director at one of the institutes of ICAR allegedly purchased lab tables worth Rs 47 lakh in an irregular manner from a firm without inviting tender and awarded civil work to firms at inflated rates by ignoring the lowest bidder. CVC ordered a major penalty, but the charges were dropped by the department, it states.
* Railways: The report said that estimates were prepared for a tender on setting up solar panels at 20 level crossing gates in Southern Railway, without allegedly considering the actual requirement. This resulted in a cost difference of Rs 23.33 lakh, the report stated. The Railway authority ignored the CVC’s advice for imposing a major penalty and instead imposed a minor penalty, the report states.