JAMMU, Feb 8: In what could turn out to be a major initiative of the Government towards curbing corruption, the tainted Government officers and officials were now set to face parallel enquiries in the Departments of their posting in addition to the probe against them by State Vigilance Organisation (SVO), Crime Branch or other investigating agencies.
Though a mandatory process under Civil Service Conduct Rules, this was not being followed by the Government Departments in 99 per cent corruption and cases of other irregularities notwithstanding repeated directives by the anti-corruption bodies.
Official sources told the Excelsior that it was in view of this “serious lapse” that the Government cases against officers and officials terminated from the services after being declared as “deadwood” couldn’t stand judicial scrutiny as no departmental enquiries had been initiated against them, a result of which their Annual Performance Reports (APRs) had been rated as good.
“This has prompted the Government to revisit its anti-corruption strategy. Finally, it was now in the process of directing all Government departments to start parallel inquiries against all tainted officers and officials once the Vigilance Organization, Crime Branch or any other anti-graft bodies lodge a First Information Report (FIR) or even take up Preliminary Enquiries (PEs) against them,” sources said, adding this would go a long way in taming the officers and officials involved in “corrupt” and other “undesirable activities”.
According to sources, even if the cases taken up by the anti-corruption organizations or held up due to some unavoidable reasons like the stay granted by the courts or delay in prosecution sanction by the Government, the investigations against the officials/officers will run concurrently by the Departmental Vigilance Officers (DVOs) or other senior officers, designated by the Government.
“The enquiry conducted by the Department itself would reflect in APRs of the officials and also held the anti-corruption bodies in speedy completion of their probe. The Government can take action against the officers/officials, if found guilty in the departmental enquiries, even without waiting for the outcome of Vigilance Organisation, Crime Branch or any other anti-corruption agency’s findings,” sources said, adding as the departmental probe would be reflected in official record of the officers/officials, this would help the Government in taking action against them.
Asserting that simultaneous departmental enquiries against tainted officials/officers were also mandatory under Civil Services Conduct Rules, sources said the guidelines were not being adhered to by majority of the departments as the officials happened to be their colleagues.
“The anti-corruption bodies had observed that in 99 per cent cases registered by them against Government officers and officials, the departments had failed to hold any kind of internal inquiry against the accused, thus, giving them an ample opportunity to keep their APRs and other relevant record up to the mark,” sources said pointing out that when the State Government gave premature retirement to some of the tainted officers after declaring them as ‘deadwood’, majority of the cases didn’t stand judicial scrutiny.
The State Vigilance Organisation had also pointed out to the Government recently over the ‘inaction’ on part of the Government departments to hold probe against the tainted officers/officials and wanted a direction should go to all the Departments and Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) to initiate inquiry against the officers, who are booked by any of the anti-corruption bodies.
It had noted with concern that though the Government departments were duty bound to hold such an inquiry under the Civil Service Conduct Rules, they were violating the official guidelines of the Government by not holding any such probe in majority of cases.
Sources, however, said that not necessarily all the Government officers/officials would be indicted in the departmental probes. Therefore, the simultaneous probes would help the genuine officers as they would be acquitted or not held guilty, which would also help the anti-corruption organizations in holding their probe. And, if the probe is delayed by the anti-graft bodies, the officers/officials can be re-instated on the basis of departmental enquiries, pending disposal of their cases with other bodies.