The growing cynicism among the people of this nation forces us to ponder over whether India needs official watchdogs as inept as the Central Vigilance Commission? The functioning of the CVC is the testimony to the fact that a national vigilance body can be abused by senior corrupt officials. The National Crime Records Bureau figures for the year 2008 show that 8, 554 cases were investigated by State vigilance/ anti-corruption bodies under the Prevention of Corruption Act and related sections of the Indian Penal Code.

Of them, only 2, 543 accused persons were chargesheeted. Out of 29, 783 persons who were put to trial, only 997 have been convicted. The irony is that the CVC machinery has to seek sanctions for prosecuting corrupt officials. In spite of the Commission clearly mentioning in its annual reports tabled in Parliament that the Single Directive should be abolished, the House has not agreed to this suggestion.

 This also shows that there is lack of political will in striking off the Single Directive which only facilitates corruption in government departments, whether the NDA or the UPA rules the country. However, it cannot be ignored that the Commission has its own organizational and operational hurdles.

The CVC,with a wafer thin staff strength of 200, is supposed to check the vigilance and non-vigilance functions of over 1, 500 Central Government departments. Moreover, CVC functionaries themselves point out that the Commission does not get manpower that has specialization in vigilance related procedures. Thus the CVC is not a very preferred place to work. This strengthens the view that the Government should make the CVC an attractive career option for officers of the ranks of Director and others by it more teeth. Just as the Election Commission was given a spine in 1996 during TN Seshan’s tenure, the Government must seriously look into merging the CVC into the proposed Lokpal with all the mandatory powers.

 It will be interesting to see whether the present government is ready to give away its powers and liberties so easily. It is high time we put an end to this wholesale public loot.

Suhaib Ilyasi