The former judge of the Karnataka High Court, B. Padmaraj, has said that preventive vigilance could play a crucial role in ensuring good governance, which is required to promote the country’s economic development and citizens’ well-being.
He was delivering the keynote address at the a seminar on ‘Preventive Vigilance as a Tool of Good Governance’ organised by Vigilance Organization of South Western Railway as part of the Vigilance Awareness Week here on Friday.
Mr. Padmaraj said that observance of Vigilance Awareness Week was one of the various outreach initiatives undertaken by Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) to fight corruption and create awareness among public servants and citizens.
He said that the cooperation of all the stakeholders was necessary to create and promote a culture of integrity, transparency and accountability.
Mr. Padmaraj said that corruption hindered the growth of a nation, reduced its income and created inequalities in distribution of income and wealth and added that corruption needed to be treated like cancer and the focus should be on prevention.
General Manager of SWR, Pradeep Kumar Saxena, said that corruption adversely affected the country’s economic development and preventive vigilance would help in reducing corruption and also contribute towards good governance.
Welcoming the dignitaries, Senior Deputy General Manager and Chief Vigilance Officer, SWR, U. Krishna Murthy, said that while Railways was on a expansion mode, rapid expansion or excessive and unplanned decentralisation might breed corruption if appropriate management control systems or Management Information Systems were not put in place.
Mr. Padmaraj also released a special issue of Vigilance Bulletin “Sankalp’ and also gave the away the prizes to the winners of various contests held as part of the vigilance week. A host of senior railway officials participated in the programme.
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PREVENTIVE VIGILANCE AS A TOOL OF GOOD GOVERNANCE
Ch. Srinivasa Rao | December 16, 2015
PREVENTIVE VIGILANCE AS A TOOL OF GOOD GOVERNANCE*
Ch. Srinivasa Rao
Formerly COA, CSIR-NGRI
A Committee on Prevention of Corruption was appointed by the Govt. of India in 1960 under the Chairmanship of Shri K. Santhanam. The recommendations pertained to various aspects of corruption. It was on the basis of such recommendations, the Central Vigilance Commission was set up in 1964 for looking into the cases of corruption against the Central Govt. and other employees.
The Central Govt. set up the following four departments as anti-corruption measures:
* Administrative Vigilance Division in the DOPT;
* Central Bureau of Investigation;
* Domestic Vigilance Units in the Ministries/Departments/Public Undertakings/ Nationalized Banks; and
* Central Vigilance Commission.
The Committee while outlining the preventive measures that should be taken to significantly reduce corruption, emphasised four major causes of corruption and how, in respect of each of these causes, preventive measures could be planned and implemented in a sustained and effective manner. These causes are:
1. Administrative delays
2. Govt. taking upon themselves more than what it can manage by way of regulatory functions.
3. Scope for personal discretion in the exercise of powers vested in different categories of Govt. servants.
4. Cumbersome procedures dealing with various matters which are of importance to citizens in their day to day affairs.
Shri Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel [Vallabhbhai Jhaverbhai Patel (1875-1950)], who is known as the Iron Man of India was responsible for merging around 565 princely states into the Indian Union. The CVC conducts “Vigilance Awareness Week” during the last week of October every year. An annual commemoration of Patel, known as the “Rashtriya Ekta Diwas” (National Unity Day), was introduced by the Govt. of India in 2014 and is to be held annually on his birthday, 31st October.
The CVC urges the Govt. Ministries/Departments/PSUs/Banks, etc. to conduct annual programmes on various subjects of vigilance during the Vigilance Awareness Week. The CVC specifically comes with a theme on which the talks are to be arranged by the Organizations. The theme for the year 2015 being “Preventive Vigilance as a Tool of Good Governance”, talks on this and similar other issues were organized by the Govt. of India Ministries/Departments, etc., all over the country.
* Text of the lecture delivered at the CSIR-Central Institute of Mining & Fuel Research (CIMFR), Dhanbad, Jharkhand 826001 on 30th October, 2015 during the “Vigilance Awareness Week”.
“If we believe a thing to be bad, and if we have a right to prevent it, it is our duty to try to prevent it and damn the consequences.”
– Lord Milner
Shri K.V. Chowdary, Central Vigilance Commissioner while addressing the media on 23rd October in connection with the annual “Vigilance Awareness Week” starting from October 26 to 31, inter alia, said:
==> The purpose of “Vigilance Awareness Week” is to generate awareness in the public at large about the bad effects of corruption. Corruption is not taking money or giving money but it has a much larger significance of the process being compromised. We must bring awareness among public.
==> The focus of the Commission was undergoing a transformation to preventive vigilance and early detection of corruption cases so that they could be taken to their logical conclusion faster.
==> Preventive vigilance by having systems and processes in place after identifying bottlenecks is the CVC’s first priority. Next is to probe the commission of an offence. The core exercise is not to make a person commit an offence but only to ensure that the life of public is made smoother.
==> Improving existing systems, internal vigilance, reviewing and inspecting processes and increasing levels of efficiency and awareness among people was the way forward for the Commission.
==> Predominant task of Vigilance is to prevent that fault from taking place. Preventing Vigilance aims to root-out the causes of complaints such as delay in decision-making, misuse of individual discretion in exercise of powers, complex procedures and low accountability.
==> Lack of Vigilance or supervisory failure results in punitive Vigilance cases. Vigilance task is not limited to punitive actions, i.e., to interfere after fault/error has been committed.
Definition of corruption
The word “corruption” is not defined in any enactment dealing with crimes, not even in the “Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988”. As per Santhanam Committee Report the term “corruption” in its widest connotation includes all improper and selfish exercise of power and influence attached to a public Office.
The Supreme Court of India in one of its pronouncements had observed that the word ‘corruption’ does not necessarily include an element of bribe taking. It is used in a much larger sense as denoting conduct, which is normally unsound or debased. The word is not synonymous with the words dishonestly or fraudulently but is much wider. It even includes conduct, which is neither fraudulent nor dishonest, if it is otherwise blameworthy or improper.
Why do we need Preventing Vigilance ?
Preventive vigilance calls for constant review of rules, procedures and practices which afford scope for corruption. It is required in order to:
* to generate awareness in the public about the bad effects of corruption;
* do away with the “outdated” process and to have Standard Operating Procedures to check corruption.
* avoid delays which occur wherever the procedures and processes have become outdated in the current scenario and give rise to bribe-seeking; and
* it is not about taking or giving money but it has a much larger significance of the process being compromised.
Some of the salient features of preventive vigilance in different segments of organization are enumerated below:
* Should invariably be on a public tender basis;
* Whenever Limited Tender is resorted to, enquiries should be sent only by Certificate of Posting and adequate notice be given to participate in tender;
* High value tenders should be both for technical and financial bids;
* Technical bids should be scrutinized and approval of samples made before financial bids are opened;
* Once the samples are approved, then the lowest price concept should be implemented in awarding purchase contracts;
* List of suppliers should be reviewed periodically;
* Adherence of purchase conditions to be monitored;
* Delivery of material should be got checked with basic samples; and
* Review of settlement of bills of parties.
* Fixation of prices as well as deliveries to be monitored;
* Quality assurance;
* Review of dealers performance; discounts extended;
sale of substandard and damaged items; and presentation of bills.
* Should be done only on public tender basis; and
* Periodical evaluation of the performance of transporters.
Civil & Electrical Works
* Strict adherence to the procedure aid down by the CIL, BPE, CPWD, etc. in the execution of works; and
* Surprise checks of measurements, quality of material, etc.
* Surprise check of stores both for quality and quantity; and
* Review of stores lying unused for long time to determine obsolescence.
* Payments by A/c payee cheques; electronic means, etc.
* Dispatch of cheques by certificate of posting instead of hand delivery;
* Review of debtors list; and
* Obtaining confirmation of balances outstanding from parties.
* Periodical rotation of Officers/staff in sensitive posts;
* Review of the Immovable Properties Return of the individuals;
* Proper implementation of the Conduct, Discipline and Appeal Rules like weeding out corrupt Officers in public interest;
* Dispensation of unwanted procedures and practices;
* Streamlining procedures for recruitment; and
* Institution of an effective grievance procedure machinery.
The highest possible degree of transparency in all aspects of Govt. is essential to promote integrity and to fight corruption. The media, civil society and the private sector are indispensable partners for Govt. in this endeavour. Govts. should adopt, widely publicise and enforce legislation and procedures that provide the public and the media in the best possible way an optimum degree of access to information relevant to fighting corruption.
Initiatives to promote transparency
Right to Information Act, 2005
To provide for setting out the practical regime of right to information for citizens to secure access to information under the control of public authorities, in order to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority, the constitution of a Central Information Commission and State Information Commissions and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
The goal of the Integrity Pact is to reduce any chances of corrupt practices during procurement through a binding agreement between the agency and bidders for specific contracts. It is intended to accomplish the following two primary objectives:
* To enable companies to abstain from bribing by providing assurances to them that (i) their competitors will also refrain from bribing, and (ii) the government procurement, privatization or licensing agencies will undertake to prevent corruption, including extortion, by their officials and to follow transparent procedures.
* To enable governments to reduce the high cost and the distortionary impact of corruption on public procurement, privatization or licensing. Thus, the Integrity Pact is a specific tool used to build transparency in public procurement, bidding or licensing process by both public institutions and private agencies. The establishment of such a fair and transparent basis for awarding contracts not only ensures efficiency but also helps in building public trust in the government and the private sector.
* CBI, CVC, Judiciary, Print and Electronic Media, Civil Society, Private Sector, etc.
The very existence of ‘penal clauses’ in an agreement between both the parties keeps the Officials on their toes and prompts them to be alert.
Corruption Perception Index
Transparency international accords ranking to countries on corruption practices; “O” being corruption-free
Where does India stand ?
|Among 178 Countries||CPI-2012||CPI-2013||CPI-2014|
|India’s rating of 38 in 2014 is considered to be a remarkable achievement by any standard|
What is Vigilance Angle
The Chief Vigilance Officers in the concerned organisations have been authorised to decide upon the existence of a vigilance angle in a particular case, at the time of registration of the complaint. Once a complaint has been registered as a vigilance case, it has to be treated as such till its conclusion, irrespective of the outcome of the investigation. Although formulation of a precise definition is not possible, generally such an angle could be perceptible in cases characterised by:
i) commission of criminal offences like demand and acceptance of illegal gratification, possession of disproportionate assets, forgery, cheating, abuse of Official position with a view to obtaining pecuniary advantage for self or for any other person; or
ii) irregularities reflecting adversely on the integrity of the public servant; or
iii) lapses involving any of the following;
a) gross or wilful negligence;
c) failure to report to competent authorities,
d) exercise of discretion without or in excess of powers/jurisdiction; and
d) cause of undue loss or a concomitant gain to an individual or a set of individuals/a party or parties; and
e) flagrant violation of systems and procedures
“Today’s problems are due to yesterday’s short-sighted solutions”
Governance denotes the way organisations are directed and controlled to ensure that they are effective in achieving their objectives.
Good Governance is about the processes for making and implementing decisions. It is not about making ‘correct’ decisions; but about the “best possible process” for making such decisions. Good decision-making processes lead to Good Governance. All have a positive effect on various aspects of an organization including consultation policies and practices, meeting procedures, service quality protocols, Officer conduct, role clarification and good working relationships.
Having good processes generally lead to better outcomes for the organizations. Good Governance results in greater confidence, transparency and ethical decision making.
Characteristics of Good Governance
Good Governance is:
Accountable: Accountability is a fundamental requirement of Good Governance. We do have an obligation to report, explain and be answerable for the consequences of decisions.
Transparent: People should be able to follow and understand the decision-making process which means they will be able to clearly see how and why a decision was made; and what sort of information, advice and consultation were considered.
Rule of law: Decisions are expected to be consistent, relevant to common law and are within the delegated powers.
Responsive: The Management should always try to serve the needs of the organization while balancing competing interests in a timely, appropriate and responsive manner.
Equitable & Inclusive: The Organization’s well-being should amply reflect in the decision-making process.
Effective & Efficient: The Management should implement decisions and follow processes that make the best use of the available resources and time to ensure the best possible results.
Participatory: One should have the opportunity to participate in the decision-making process
Benefits of Good Governance
* People are more likely to have confidence, if decisions are made in a transparent and accountable way.
* This helps people feel that the organization will act in the overall interest, regardless of differing opinions.
* It also encourages the staff to remember that the Management is acting on their behalf and helps them to understand the importance of having open and ethical processes which adhere to the law and stand up to scrutiny.
* Officers will feel more confident in providing frank and fearless advice which is acknowledged and respected by the staff members.
Leads to better decisions
* Decisions that are formed by good information and data, by stakeholder views, and by open and honest debate will generally reflect the broad interests of the organization.
* This does not assume that everyone will think each decision is the right one. They will also be less tempted to continue fighting or attempting to overturn the decision. So even the most difficult and controversial decisions are more likely to stick on.
Supports ethical decision-making
* Good Governance creates an environment where the decision-makers ask themselves ‘what-is-the-right-thing-to-do?’.
* Making choices and having to account for them in an open and transparent way encourages honest consideration of the choices facing those in the governance process.
* This is the case even when differing moral frameworks between individuals means that the answer to ‘what-is-the-right-thing-to-do’ is not always the same.
Good Governance also instills a greater sense of responsiveness, accountability, transparency and public service excellence in the current system of governance and also fulfill the need for further simplifying the procedures and processes.
The Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances, Govt. of India has also taken up the e-Office Mission Mode Project (MMP) under National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) that has been conceptualized to modernize the Central Govt. Offices through application of Information Technology.
The Govt. of India has introduced simplified Good Governance in the following aspects:
> Citizen-Friendly Initiatives
> Swachh Bharat Mission
> Capacity Building for Citizen Centric Administration
> Towards Good Governance
> E-Governance Initiatives
> With Pensioners’ Forever
Out of the above, the following aspects appear to be more relevant to the preventive vigilance:
==> Thrust on identification and dissemination of Good Governance practices and innovation in public service delivery;
==> Emphasizing high ethical standards and responsiveness for civil servants;
==> “Note for the Successor” — to strengthen Institutional memory;
==> Provision of platform for Govt. Officers to design/implement projects of their choice – to encourage motivation and personal growth;
==> Provision of platform for interaction for the new recruits to the IAS;
==> Human Resource Management System framework being devised to manage vacancies related information on real time basis, to aid better manpower placement and planning;
==> Senior bureaucracy being encouraged to share their knowledge and experience with students – a step towards nation-building;
==> Initiated uploading of RTI applications, Appeals and their replies on the Website;
==> Release of report on select best practices in governance;
==> Online system PRISM – Property Related Information System;
==> Filing of Performance Appraisal Report of IAS Officers through Smart Performance Appraisal Report Recording Window (SPARROW);
==> Vacancy Monitoring System (AVMS) by ACC modified to make user-friendly;
==> Pensioners’ grievances addressed on priority;
==> Simplification of pension procedure;
==> Self-certification in place of affidavits and attestations.
Code of Conduct
The Code of Conduct is both written and unwritten. The following Rules are generally included to form the core of a public servant’s responsibility and find a place in most of the conduct regulations:
i) Every member of the service shall at all times maintain absolute integrity and devotion to duty and shall do nothing, which is unbecoming of a member of the service.
ii) Every member of the service shall take all possible steps to ensure integrity of and devotion to duty by, all Govt. servants for the time being under his control and authority.
iii) No member of service shall, in the performance of his Official duties, or in the exercise of his powers conferred on him, act otherwise than in his own best judgement to be true and correct except when he is acting under the direction of his Official superior.
iv) The direction of the Official superior shall ordinarily be in writing. Where the issue of oral direction becomes unavoidable, the Official superior shall confirm in writing immediately thereafter.
v) A member of the Service who has received oral direction from his Official superior shall seek confirmation of the same in writing, as early as possible and in such case, it shall be the duty of the Official superior to confirm the direction in writing.
Good Conduct vis-à-vis Good Governance
* Good conduct in an organization means that staff should act with integrity and impartiality. They should be honest and diligent, avoid conflicts of interest, treat people with mutual respect, act lawfully and show leadership.
* Good conduct or behaviour is an important part of a civil society. It is also the basis for good relationships which are, in turn, crucial for Good Governance.
* Good conduct and good relationships are particularly significant in an organization because it relies on its staff working together as the management to make decisions in the name of the organization regardless of whether individuals agree with a decision or not.
* Good relationships are characterised by mutual respect and courtesy which is especially important when there are differences of opinion. Equally important is the need for Officials to listen to each other, and focus debate and discussion on the issues rather than on personalities.
An important foundation of Good Governance in an organization is goodwill. Good Governance depends on the capacity and preparedness of Management to behave well and do whatever is necessary to build and maintain good working relationships, the administration supporting this, and staff members committing to repairing working relationships when things come unstuck as they may do from time to time.
Thus, preventive vigilance is part of Good Governance and interdependent on each other for the common good.
The author is grateful to the Director, CIMFR, Dhanbad, and also the COA, AO and staff members for giving me an opportunity to deliver the above lecture and their hospitality.
1. “Vigilance: A Management Perspective”, N.D. Gour, Personnel Manager (Vig.) Western Coalfields Ltd., “CONCERN” (March 2003)
2. Guidebook on “Promoting Good Governance in Public-Private Partnerships”, United Nations, New York and Geneva, 2008
3. CVO, CSIR’s Lr. No.CVO/PV/2010011/1 dated 16-9-2010
4. The Hindu, July 9, 2015
5. CVC Lr. No.015/VGL/066 dated 5-10-2015
6. Message from the President, Republic of India on the occasion of Vigilance Awareness Week (Oct. 26-31, 2015), Oct. 6, 2015
7. PNS, New Delhi, Oct. 24, 2015
8. Brochure on “Good Governance Simplified”, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Govt. of India
9. “Measures for Preventive Vigilance”, Harish-Chandra Research Institute, Allahabad, an aided Institution of Department of Atomic Energy
10. “Ethics & Governance – A Perspective”, Ranjana Kumar, Vigilance Commissioner, CVC, New Delhi
11. “Guide to Principles of Good Governance”, British and Irish Ombudsman Association, Twickenham, Middlesex, U.K.