It was most disheartening to hear the PM make such a statement in the Rajya Sabha today. Irrespective of when vital information impinging upon the “integrity” of the candidate for the post of Chief Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) is brought to the notice of the PM, such an appointment has to be stalled that very moment.
In the past seven years, the DOPT has allowed promotions of even those officers , on whom “major” penalty had been imposed, which is a disqualification. Hence, the PM should have not relied completely on the DOPT note. This disqualification becomes stronger when the penalty relates to embezzlement of government money or pecuniary loss caused to the treasury. The PM has been taken for a ride for far too long and was expected to announce severe punishment for all those responsible for showing the cheek of putting up to him a doctored note on such an important matter. The PM can’t escape by simply saying the Minister of State for Personnel prepared the note. Notes are prepared in the secretariat. Had the note been prepared in the concerned section in DOPT, the Assistant would have placed everything on record. But dishonest secretaries do not allow the designated officials to perform their lawful duty. The fact that there was no mention of the chargesheet pending against Thomas in the note to the PM/HM/HPC (High Powered Committee) indicates that the note was prepared by the secretary of DOPT or under his directions someone else. 2-G case, where such commissions or omissions were practiced, has cost the secretary his career and reputation. Is the secretary DOPT similarly accountable in this case? Should the Central Bureau of Investigation be not asked to investigate the matter?
The other possibility could be that the original note contained all the details but it was replaced by the sanitized version by secretary DOPT/Cabinet Secretary/PMO and that is why the humble and polite PM has chosen to take the full blame on himself rather than sacrificing the operators. These operators have ruined clean administration by favouring the Thomas’ of doubtful integrity over the honest officers and must be checked if corruption is to be reigned.
The opposition appeared to be too soft on the issue: one trying to perform a perfunctory ritual and the other acting the teacher-taught tradition. Only one feeble voice raised the issues agitating civil society and the honest officers, who want to know if it is time to bid farewell to integrity and honesty and devotion to duty in favour of corruption–the almighty king of the India government system! Nobody even mentioned that the institution of CVC alone is the authority assigned the duty to keep a vigil on corruption in each and every office of the Govt of India, including all the public sector undertakings, banks, institutions, societies etc. It was restricted to the CVC supervising the selection of the CBI Director!! The CVC is no Police Station to catch the corrupt and punish him through the CBI. Between the CBI action & the CVC is the organization of the institution of the CVOs (Chief Vigilance Officer), who help in ensuring that government servants do not resort to delinquency, remain on the path of highest integrity all the time and guard government interests. They are appointed by the CVC only and not by the Ministers or the PM. A corrupt CVC will never encourage honest CVOs to do their duty.
Acting honest CVO is no child’s play–it is a bold initiative(even risky at times if the powers of the mighty of 2-G or CWG or Prasar Bharati or Adarsh etc are any indication). So, the CVC has to be personally clean and a person of a reputation of the highest integrity to appoint a team of equally honest CVOs for the full period of 5 years of his term and ensure clean governance and administration.
That the PM was impelled to ignore all such considerations inspite of having been informed about Thomas, demands exemplary punishment to the wrongdoers in the most demonstrative manner promptly.
Corruption is not an issue between the Government and the Opposition and their agreement to forget it easily, but concerns and agitates the whole nation. It is in the national interest that the PM is requested to act. If he finds himself unable to do so for reasons of real politics, he better recuse himself most dignified and not associate himself with the corrupt in any case.