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"Procedures In Vigilance Manual Should Be Followed In A Constructive Manner": Madras High Court To DVAC

Upasana Sajeev
30 April 2022 5:15 AM GMT
Procedures In Vigilance Manual Should Be Followed In A Constructive Manner: Madras High Court To DVAC
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DVAC must conduct preliminary inquiry before forwarding complaints to respective departments.

The Madras High Court has directed the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Department to necessarily follow the procedures as contemplated in the Vigilance Manual in a constructive manner and for effective prevention of the menace of corruption/"The procedures contemplated in the Vigilance Manual are unambiguous and the constructive way of its implementation is of paramount important. Thus,...

The Madras High Court has directed the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Department to necessarily follow the procedures as contemplated in the Vigilance Manual in a constructive manner and for effective prevention of the menace of corruption/

"The procedures contemplated in the Vigilance Manual are unambiguous and the constructive way of its implementation is of paramount important. Thus, the seventh respondent (DVAC) has to consider the implementation of the Vigilance Manual in its real spirit," Justice S.M Subramaniam observed.

The remarks were made while taking into account allegations pertaining to corruption in transfer and posting of teachers.

The Court ordered the agency to collect information through sources and initiate appropriate actions under both penal and service laws upon receipt of complaint or information regarding corrupt activities. It further directed the Department to verify the assets of higher officials in the Education Department (specifically in Group-A and Group-B) and also to verify the declaration made in their service records. Any disproportionality should be dealt with in accordance with the law. Further, the court also directed the collection of information about the functioning of various Teachers' Association and the assets of the office bearers of the Teachers' Association.

For this, the Court directed constituting Special Teams to create an adequate number of sources and gather intelligence and initiate all appropriate actions against corrupt activities. If necessary, proposals may be submitted to the Government and the Director General of Police to provide additional forces to the Department of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption to deal with large scale corrupt activities in Education Department and other Government Departments and in such circumstances, the Government has to consider the same in a realistic and practical manner.

Background

The petitioner was appointed in the post of Secondary Grade Teacher and was later promoted to the Post of Primary School Headmaster and then Middle School Headmaster and was working as Headmaster in the Panchayat Union Middle School, Alangudi, Thiruvarankulam Block, Pudukkottai District. While so, the District Educational Officer (DEO) ordered his transfer which amounts to punishment. The petitioner claims that the nature of the complaint or allegations made against the petitioner has not been explained in the impugned order.

The petitioner alleged that he was penalized for acting on a complaint by the Parent-Teacher Association. He further submitted that the order was to accommodate the sixth respondent, who was involved in several irregularities, including sexual harassment. The petitioner also made several allegations against the Authorities. It was alleged that the transfer and postings through counselling were made only based on corrupt activities.

Considering that similar allegations of rampant corruption activities in the matter of transfer and postings have been made by several other counsels appearing in other cases also, the court suo moto impleaded the Director of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption.

In the status report filed by the Department, it was stated that the Department of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption receives approximately 15000 petitions every year. In view of the guidelines provided in Part II, Para 10 and 12 of the Vigilance Manual and as per the detailed guidelines issued by the Government of Tamil Nadu vide G.O.(Ms) No.173, P & AR (N) Department, dated 19.12.2018, prompt actions are taken by the Department.

To this, the court observed the consequences in the event of following these procedures alone in Part II Paragraphs 10 to 12. The court observed that when a petition is received, the department sends it to the Head of the Department. The Head of the Department may not have material available on record regarding the corruption allegations and will close the petition in all probability. Thus, statistically, the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Department may say that they are receiving 15000 petitions approximately every year but there is no record of the actual number of cases registered and investigations conducted. The court observed that such sorrow state of affairs is directly in violation of the very spirit of the Prevention of Corruption Act and the procedures contemplated in the Vigilance Manual.

"Thus, the magnitude of corruption in the public domain are not addressed in order to meet out the requirement of the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Vigilance Manual so as to ensure that the corrupt activities are dealt with appropriately and are minimized to the maximum possible. Though the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Department claims that they are doing lot of works, it does not meet the current day large scale corruption allegations in Government Departments with reference to the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act and the procedures contemplated under the Vigilance Manual."

The court also observed that the Detachments of the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption are declared as "Police Stations" under the Code of Criminal Procedure giving them the power to break into the various Departments / Organisations and discover the corruption. The court also stated that when corruption is collusive, no complaints should be expected. The court, therefore, suggested that the officers of the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption set up reliable informants so that they could either conduct surprise checks/super-checks or undertake scrutiny of the particular transaction to bring out corrupt motives on the part of the public Servant and illegal gain to him and or to the other party.

The court thus observed that merely forwarding petitions to the Head of the department concerned is not the correct procedure to be followed as per the Vigilance Manual. The department has to conduct a preliminary enquiry on receipt of complaints. Even when a complaint is not received, the department shall create sources and initiate all appropriate actions contemplated under the manual.

"In respect of petitions, the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Department is not expected to forward the same to the Head of the Department concerned without conducting preliminary enquiry even as per Paragraph 10(2) of the Vigilance Manual. Only during the course of preliminary enquiry, if the officials of the Vigilance Department found that the allegations are frivolous, then alone, they can send the petition to the Department for the purpose of initiating further action, if they are having any other material regarding any such allegations in the petition. Thus, it is made clear that preliminary enquiry becomes imminent for the purpose of forming an opinion where corruption allegations are established or not."

The court also opined that these procedures must run along with Paragraph 129 of the Vigilance Manual, which speaks about the creation of sources and gathering of intelligence in anti-corruption work. All these procedures are to be worked out together to crackdown the corrupt activities in Government Departments.

Case Title: S. David Leo v. The Principal Secretary to the Government and Others

Case No: W.P (MD) No. 2019 of 2022

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Mad) 190

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