Government departments have not adhered to the Central Vigilance Commission’s advice to act against corrupt officials in as many as 55 cases, with the Ministry of Railways accounting for 11 such deviations, according to an official report.
The Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI), Bank of India and Delhi Jal Board have four such cases each and the Mahanadi Coalfields Limited has shielded its employees in three such cases, CVC’s annual report 2021 said.
Two such cases of non-adherence of the probity watchdog’s advice to punish corrupt were by Indian Overseas Bank, Bank of Maharashtra, Madras Fertilizers Limited, Indira Gandhi National Open University and North Delhi Municipal Corporation (which is now part of the unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi), it said.
The commission has observed that in 2021, there were some significant deviations from its advice, the report said.
“Non-acceptance of the Commission’s advice or non-consultation with the Commission vitiates the vigilance process and weakens the impartiality of the vigilance administration,” it said.
Giving details of one such case, the CVC said while working in different capacities, the then chief personnel officer amassed a huge wealth disproportionate to his known source of income by 138.65 per cent.
“He was found responsible for not intimating or not taking permission of the Department as per extant norms about purchase of assets and investment made by him or his wife and acceptance of gift by his family members,” it said.
“The Commission tendered its first stage advice March 7, 2012, for initiation of major penalty proceedings against the then Chief Personnel Officer. While tendering second stage advice, the Commission had advised imposition of penalty under Railway Service (Pension) Rules against him,” the report said.
However, the disciplinary authority i.e Railway Board (Member Staff) decided to close the case and dropped the proceedings against the officer, it said.
The CVC also highlighted a case by SIDBI that resulted in massive financial loss.
Between August 28, 2017, and November 27, 2017, officers working in the bank’s treasury and its management vertical, placed a total amount of Rs 1,000 crore as fixed deposits with two interrelated private financial institutions in eight branches, the report said.
“By placing the aforesaid amount as deposits without obtaining any quotations to compare or negotiate the rates of interest with the institutions, the officials violated terms of the Manual of SOP (standard operating procedure) for Treasury Operations of SIDBI,” it said.
During financial year 2018, the officials allowed SIDBI’s deposits to be placed only with this particular financial institution without considering the other available options of deposits, the report said.
Upon maturity of the tenure of deposits, when the bank sought its proceeds, the claims were not honoured by the financial institutions despite repeated efforts, it said.
As a result, the bank is exposed to a massive financial and reputational loss, the report said.
“The Commission advised for imposition of major penalty, on two officials involved in the matter. The disciplinary authority ‘exonerated’ both the officials from charges in deviation from the Commission’s advice,” it added.
The CVC also cited a case of Bank of India related to fraud in cash credit limit.
“One of the officials of Bank of India allowed the credit in the current account of the borrower and facilitated the private company to divert the fund to other non-lender banks even though OCC (open cash credit) account of the company is irregular in the branch,” it said.
On request of a private company, Rs 27.9 crore was disbursed under cash credit limit on various dates between June 2014 and February 2015, and Rs 4.58 crore was disbursed (under term loan limit), the report said.
Subsequently, the borrower company diverted the working capital funds through a private sector bank where they were operating their current account.
“The borrower company also diverted the term loan funds to its subsidiary company by submitting fake/ forged invoices and siphoned off the funds with a malafide intention to cheat the bank,” it said.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had probed the matter and sought prosecution against one of the bank’s officials.
The bank, however, denied grant of sanction for prosecution against its employee, the report said.
While examining cases received for advice, the commission said it has noted some serious and significant irregularities and lapses.
These range from a failure on part of the disciplinary authority to follow laid down procedures for consultation with the CVC and/or Department of Personnel and Training in cases of disagreement, to delays in seeking advice and lack of awareness or ignorance of rules and regulations in conducting disciplinary proceedings, it added.
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