Dr. Jacob Thomas Paves Way for Major Reforms in Investigation Procedures at Vigilance Bureau
The Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) has issued two path-breaking circulars (copies of which are with The Kochi Post) to streamline its functioning. Dr. Jacob Thomas IPS took charge as the Vigilance Director on June 2 and the first circular came on June 4. It deals with the procedure to be followed for enquiries on petitions or complaints sent by the public, cases forwarded by courts and on reports from the government. The second circular dated June 18 is aimed to strengthen the process/procedure of supervision and monitoring of enquiries and investigations within the VACB by using modern communication technologies. These circulars will supersede all existing instructions on all the subjects mentioned in these circulars.
Every officer in the units of the Bureau has been directed to do an in-depth study of each other’s department, and Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) or government organisation with regard to their processes, projects, schemes, transactions, budgets, payments, proposal, posting, etc. on a regular basis. The Bureau will be simultaneously studying more than 100 departments/PSUs/organisations. This information/intelligence will be used by all units in enquiries for improving effectiveness and reducing time for each enquiry.
The Unit Officers (DySPs) are permitted to enquire into all petitions/complaints received by them without forwarding the same to the SP and the Vigilance Directorate. It has been stipulated under this circular to complete such enquiries within 15 days. Petitions received at the office of the SPs will have to be enquired by their office using their resources. The Unit Officers have been given the task of training personnel not directly engaged in investigation work to assess and evaluate each petition for the existence of a vigilance angle and the seriousness and significance of the vigilance angle.
On completion of enquiries, if the enquiry discloses no irregularities and no further action is required, the petitioner should be given a reply through SMS/Email/WhatsApp/Post. In cases where the enquiry necessitates an in-depth probe by the internal vigilance of the concerned Department, the request may be forwarded to the internal vigilance unit of the respective Department/Organisation/PSU.
To comply with the judgment of the Supreme Court of India in Lalitha Kumari’s case, where the Apex Court directed that the registration of FIR is mandatory in cases where information discloses commission of a cognizable offence; it has been directed that where the initial enquiry reveals the commission of a cognizable offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act, a vigilance case should be registered immediately. In such cases, it has been directed to inform the Vigilance Directorate through email until a separate comprehensive online mechanism is developed and installed. After the registration of the FIR, the officer has to mail a detailed action plan of the case to the Directorate. This effectively means the office of the Vigilance Director will be closely monitoring the progress of every vigilance case, where an FIR has been registered.
The Unit Officers and SPs have been further instructed to send weekly reports through e-mail on the fate of the petitions or complaints received from all sources. They have also been directed to enter data in the electronic database of VACB regarding enquiries or cases, as and when they are initiated. The data has to be updated weekly, if not daily.
The Directorate is also planning to roll out a mobile application to combat corruption and involve people in the fight against corruption.
You can read The Kochi Post’s detailed interview with Dr. Jacob Thomas here.