The Centre has said that there is no process for handling complaints against Central Vigilance Commissioners (CVC), and any complaints against them “will be processed only after guidelines are finalised”.
This has been stated by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) in an RTI reply on January 9, to a query by Indian Forest Service officer and Magsaysay award winner Sanjiv Chaturvedi, who had complained to the President of India regarding allegations against CVC K V Chowdary. The DoPT in its reply goes on to say that a “process for framing guidelines to handle grievances/complaints against Chief Vigilance Commissioner/Vigilance Commissioners has been initiated by DoPT”.
The parent CVC Act is from 2003, and guidelines on this have not been framed in the 15 years since. This means that there is no mechanism whereby actions of the CVC or decisions made by the CVC can be questioned.
In his latest letter to the President on January 14, Chaturvedi said, “How long this process will last as DoPT had intimated the same status in October 2018 & then again in January 2019 and on this ground alone they have declined to process the complaint of undersigned, which otherwise was solely based on irrefutable documentary evidence. This de facto immunity granted to CVC is not only contrary to the provisions of parent Act- CVC Act, 2003 but also against basic principles of ‘rule of law’ and ‘accountability’ regarding functioning of one of the most important public institution of the country, which is being run at great cost to public exchequer.”
Charges levelled by Chaturvedi on the CVC include his “connivance” in not appointing a Chief Vigilance Officer “of impeccable credentials” in AIIMS to oversee accusations of corruption which Chaturvedi claimed he was trying to unearth.
The complaints against the conduct of the CVC were made by Chaturvedi on July 15, 2017, and with reminders in August 2017 and then January 2018 to the President, who forwarded them to the DoPT for further action.
The CVC has been in the news most recently over the midnight action on former CBI director Alok Verma and special director Rakesh Asthana on October 23 last year. It was the CVC’s report that the government used as the basis to transfer Verma as DG Fire Services, Civil Defence & Home Guards, a post he has refused to occupy.
The Inquiry Report of the CVC became more controversial as the Supreme Court-appointed judge to monitor the inquiry dissociated himself from the CVC’s findings and told The Indian Express that there was “no evidence of corruption” against Verma, despite the CVC report claiming to hold certain charges as having weight.
Serious charges have been levelled against the CVC, with Verma formally recording how CVC Chowdary tried to play “arbitrator” for chargesheeted officer Asthana and came to his house to discuss it “on his own” initiative, just a fortnight before the midnight swoop on India’s premier investigating agency.