What is Vigilance?
In the context of an organization, Vigilance means keeping a watchful eye on the activities of the organization and its personnel and taking prompt action to promote ethical practices and ensure integrity and honesty in the official transactions. Corruption implies lack of integrity but the concept of vigilance covers all kinds of deviations from standards of integrity as well as improper exercise of administrative discretion, nepotism, favouritism and what is known as conduct unbecoming of a public servant. [Vigilance Manual 2016- West Bengal Power Development Corporation Limited]
There are individuals who indulge in unethical activities of getting personal gains at the cost of the organization. Such persons not only lead to wastages, losses and economic decline but also infect others and damage the image and goodwill of the organization. Hence, to rein in such persons’ miss-endeavours and promote organizational interest, vigilance is required.
It helps in:
Disciplining the wrong doers;
Protecting honest performers;
Increasing transparency and fairness;
Promoting culture of honesty and integrity; and
Reforming systems for corruption-free delivery.
The Government of West Bengal, by a resolution No. 221 GAC dated the 4th March, 1965 set up a Vigilance Commission to be headed by the Vigilance Commissioner, West Bengal. The Commission will be attached to the Home Deptt but in the exercise of its powers, it will not be subordinate to any department andwill have the same measure of independence and autonomy as the Public Service Commission, W. B.
The main task of this Commission
- (i) Prevention of Corruption and maintenance of integrity in the public services
- (ii) Ensuring just and fair exercise of administrative powers vested in various authorities by the statutory rules or by non-statutory executive orders.
The subsequent Resolution No. 1/PAR (Vig.) dated 10th January 2012 renamed the West Bengal Vigilance Commission as State Vigilance Commission, West Bengal. The Commission has jurisdiction and powers in respect of matters in which the executive powers of the State of West Bengal extends. The State Vigilance Commission is attached to the P & A R Department for administrative purposes. However, in the exercise of its powers and functions it is not subordinate to any department of the State Government.
The jurisdiction of the Commission is overall the Government servants in the service or pay of the State Government with the exception of the following:
- (a) Persons paid at a daily rate.
- (b) Officers belonging to the judicial services who are under the administrative control of the High Court.
- (c)The employees attached to the offices of such Judicial Officers.
Cases, which come under the purview of the Vigilance Commissioner:
i-To undertake an enquiry into any transaction in which a public servant is suspected or alleged to have acted for an improper purpose or in a corrupt manner;
ii. To cause an enquiry or investigation to be made into—
(a) Any complaint that a public servant had exercised or refrained from exercising his powers for improper or corrupt purposes.
(b) Any complaint of corruption, misconduct, lack of integrity or other kinds of
malpractices or misdemeanor on the part of a public servant, including members of the
All India Services serving in connection with the affairs of the State Government.
2. The Vigilance Commission is not therefore concerned with allegations or complaints of any other types, e.g., insubordination, breach of discipline, negligence of duties, etc. not involving corruption. Allegations of these other types should be enquired into and disposed of departmental and should not be referred to the Vigilance Commission at any stage.
3. Where the Departments, Directorates, Heads of Offices have reasonable suspicion about the integrity of some public servants, the disciplinary authority should first make a preliminary verification with reference to its own records and if there is any basis for the complaint, allegation or suspicion, then only the matter should be reported to the Vigilance Commission with a self-contained precise and all the relevant documents for investigation and/or advice as to the further action to be taken.
Jurisdiction and Complaints regarding corporate State Undertakings
The powers and jurisdiction of the Vigilance Commission also extends to corporate State
Investigation and Enquiry
There are two phases in each case ending in departmental proceedings viz., “investigation” and “Enquiry”.
The “Investigation” starts on receipt of a complaint about corruption. If the Vigilance Commission considers that the complaint or information is sufficiently specific and verifiable, it asks the Anti-corruption Bureau or some other agency (including the department to which the Public Servant belongs) to make investigation confidentially and to submit a preliminary report to the Commission for advice as to further action. The department itself may also initiate such an investigation suo-motu and forward the report to the Vigilance Commission for perusal and advice as to further action.
If the Vigilance Commissioner is of opinion that there is a prima facie case for further investigation by way of examination of the public servant concerned and of the records etc., of the department with the knowledge of the head of the department then the Vigilance Commission orders what is known an “Open investigation” which is
actually the second stage— of the first phase, viz.
The process of preliminary investigation.
At this stage, the officer concerned is invariably given his first opportunity to explain informally the allegations against him. If he can satisfactorily explain his conduct, the matter is dropped and the head of the department is informed accordingly. if he is unable to do that, then only the case enter the second phase, i.e. the formal enquiry.
After examination of the report of the preliminary investigation, the Commission
advises the Government or the disciplinary authority of the Public Servant complained
against as to the suitable action to be taken. The action may include drawing up of
departmental proceedings or the filing of a case in Criminal Court or recommendation
for compulsory retirement under Rule 75(aa) of WBSR-I.
When a departmental proceeding is advised, the Commission drafts the specific charges and in the case of Group A Officers (erstwhile Gazetted Officers), invariably nominates a
Commissioner for departmental enquiries attached to its organization for holding the
formal oral enquiry.
Classification of Cases in which consulting Vigilance Commission is obligatory:
(1) Demand and/or acceptance of illegal gratification.
(2) Misappropriation of Government money and property.
(3) Breach of trust in respect of public fund.
(4) Forgery or falsification of document for getting undue advantage for self or somebody else.
(5) Showing false expenditure of Government money with improper motive
(6) Incurring unnecessary Government expenditure with the motive of giving undue benefit to others.
(7) Possession of assets disproportionate to known sources of income.
(8) Drawing of false traveling allowance, daily allowance, house rent allowances etc.
(9) Private trade, business or employment, speculation and investment, promotion and management of companies.
(10) Non-declaration or suppression of assets or submission of false, incorrect or misleading assets statement
(11) Commission to report to the Appointing Authority about acceptance of gifts.
(12) Financial impropriety, lack of supervision, negligence of duty, arbitrator/action etc. resulting in loss of Government money or facilitating corruption.
(13) Unauthorised raising of Subscription.
(14) Unauthorised lending and borrowing.
(15) Unauthorised obtaining of patents.
(16) Abuse of power or authority for deriving improper gain for self, relatives, friends, etc.
There are however other irregularities and administrative lapses where circumstances will have to be weighed carefully to take a view:-
Whether the officers integrity is in doubt;
Gross or wilful negligence;
Recklessness in decision making;
Blatant violation of systems and procedures;
Exercise of discretion in excess where no ostensible public interest is evident;
Failures to keep the controlling authority/superiors informed in time are some of the other irregularities which point to the existence of vigilance angle.
Vigilance organization takes up such matters for investigation and follow up punitive/ corrective actions, which have a vigilance angle.
In the districts, normally the District Magistrate himself functions as the District Vigilance Officer unless for special reasons he prefers to delegate his powers and responsibilities to some other senior officer, serving in the Genera! Administration in the District headquarters. In each Department/ Directorate /Corporate State Undertakings an officer of or corresponding EO the rank of Deputy Secretary is designated as the Vigilance Officer. The Vigilance Officers are responsible to co-ordinate work relating to vigilance in the Department and also with the Vigilance Commissioner.
Complaints of allegations received anonymously or pseudonymously should not be rejected as a matter or course.
(a) A departmental proceeding shall be deemed to have been instituted on the date on which the statement of charges is issued to the Officer or pensioner or if the officer is placed under suspension from an earlier date, of such date; and
(b) A judicial proceeding shall be deemed to have been instituted;
Punishment- Regulation 49 of ESR :
Without prejudice to the provisions of any law for the time being in force, an employee who is found to be guilty of any act of misconduct or of any breach of discipline, is liable to punishment according the gravity of the offence. The punishment will not only depend on the findings in the case under review but also on his past record. The imposition of penalties may be ordered by any officer of the Corporation empowered in this behalf.
For good and sufficient reasons, the following punishments may be formulated to an
employee of the Corporation:-
II. Withholding of increment or promotion:
III. A period of suspension followed by reinstatement for which the punishing authority does not grant full pay to an employee:
IV. Reduction to a lower post or to a lower time scale of pay or to a lower stage in his own time scale of pay:
V. Recovery from pay of any sum as a measure of punishment forming part of any pecuniary loss caused to the department by negligence or otherwise:
VI. Compulsory retirement before the normal age of superannuation:
VII. Removal from service which does not debar future employment:
VIII. Dismissal from service which ordinarily debars future employment.
And withholding pension.
- Vigilance Commission is a purely advisory body.
- A complaint concerns a Gazetted Officer, the report of the preliminary enquiry should be sent to the Vigilance Commission
- All cases of confirmation in Superior-Service, promotion to higher post (except under Career Advancement Scheme) involving exercise of greater discretionary powers, deputation to foreign service, selection for training abroad, foreign travel, re-employment, extension in service, the Vigilance Commission shall have to. be consulted for assessing the integrity of the officer concerned. For sanction of pension and retirement benefits, the Commission may also be consulted, if considered necessary.
Vigilance Awareness Week (i.e., Week beginning from 31st October)
State Vigilance Commission, WB
Bikash Bhawan , 1st,2nd & 3rd Floor
DF- Block, Sector-I Salt Lake city
TEL : 2334-0507,2334-0508,2334-0509,2337-7910[ Number may be canged]
Ref: Employees’ Service Regulations (ESR), 1990 and Employees’ (Death-Cum-Retirement
Benefit) Regulations (DCRB), 1992 AND Notes on the West Bengal Service Rules, Part 1
- Power of State Vigilance Commission as per Resolution No. 1/PAR (Vig) dated 10.12.2012
- Whistle-Blowers Protection Act of 2011
- Relevant provisions of the Indian Penal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure & Evidence Act
- The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
- Guidelines issued by State Vigilance Commission as well as the Central Vigilance Commission from time to time.
The Anti Corruption: Govt. Notification No. 655-PAR(Vig.) dated 02.08.2012