Though the advisory jurisdiction of the Commission extends to all organisations to which the executive control of the Union extends, however, for practical reasons, the Commission presently advises only on vigilance cases pertaining to the following categories of employees:-
- Gazetted Central Government officials;
- Two levels below the Board level appointees in the public sector undertakings of the Central Government;
- Officers of the rank of Scale- III and above in the public sector banks;
- Officers of the rank of Assistant Manager and above in the Insurance Sector (covered by LIC and GIC); and
- Officers in autonomous bodies/local authorities or societies comparable in status to that of a Gazetted Central Government officer.
Nonetheless, the Commission retains its residuary powers to call for any individual case in respect of employees other than those who are within its normal jurisdiction. As per the CVC Ordinance 1998, the Commission can undertake an inquiry or cause an inquiry or investigation to be made into any complaint against any official belonging to the following categories of officials wherein it is alleged that he has committed an offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988:
- Group “A” officers of the Central Government
- Such level of officers of the corporations established by or under any Central Act, Government companies, societies and other local authorities, owned or controlled by the Central Government, as that Government may, by notification* in the Official Gazette, specify in this behalf.
Restraints on the Commission’s Jurisdiction
Under the authority of Government of India’s Resolution dated 11.02.1964, the Commission was empowered to undertake an inquiry into any transaction in which a public servant was suspected or alleged to have acted for an improper purpose or in a corrupt manner irrespective of his status.
It was only through subsequent administrative instructions that the Commission’s jurisdiction was restricted to certain categories of employees for the purposes of its advice.
Even in that situation, the Commission could call for a report on any complaint of corruption, misconduct, lack of integrity, misdemeanor, etc. against any public servant irrespective of his status.
While the intention of the Supreme Court’s judgement in Vineet Narain’s case to accord statutory status to CVC appears to strengthen the organisation, the provision in the CVC Bill, restricting its jurisdiction to inquire into or cause an inquiry or investigation to be made into the alleged commission of offences under the PC Act and Code of Criminal Procedure only, and that too against certain categories of employees, in fact, tantamounts to weakening its authority.
Further, the Commission has been given powers to exercise superintendence over the vigilance administration of various Ministries of Central Government, PSUs, societies, autonomous organisation etc. The restriction upon the jurisdiction of the Commission to call for suo moto reports on the complaints will only hamper its functioning. The Government of India should, therefore, reconsider their proposal and authorise the Commission to call for suo moto reports on complaints irrespective of the status of the official named therein.
It was envisaged in the Government of India’s Resolution dated 11.02.1964 that the relevant rules under the All India Services Act would be amended in consultation with the State Governments in order to bring the Members of those Services under the purview of the Commission.
However, even after 35 years of the Commission’s existence, the All India Services Officers, particularly the Members of the IAS, IPS and Indian Forest Service, do not fall within the Commission’s jurisdiction if the alleged irregularities committed by them are connected with the affairs of the State Governments.
The Commission now exists under the Government of India’s Resolution dated 04.04.1999. The said Resolution, apart from not having the statutory backing, also limits the operation of the CVC inasmuch as it does not mention about the powers of the Commission to exercise superintendence over the functions of the CBI, appointments of the CVOs being made in consultation with the Commission and writing of their ACRs. The Commission has pointed out these deficiencies to Government of India for appropriate action.