'CVC can ensure that outside interference is not possible'

Print edition : September 26, 1998

N. Vittal, who has assumed charge as the statutory Chief Vigilance Commissioner, is an unassuming and soft-spoken person. A good listener who speaks very little, he insists that he is the master of the unspoken word. He spoke to Sudha Mahalingam at his Mansingh Road office in New Delhi. Excerpts:

How is it that your table is piled high with files even before the CVC is fully constituted?

There is so much work to do. For many of the functions of the CVC, the Commission need not be fully constituted. For instance, the appointment of the CBI and E.D. chiefs can be done by the Chief Vigilance Commissioner who will head the selection committee.

Are you going to appoint the chiefs of the CBI and the E.D. immediately?

No, not yet. Only after the Supreme Court decides the case. In any case, there is no move to appoint the CBI chief immediately.

There are other tasks that can be performed only when the Commission is fully constituted. What about them?

According to Section 9(d) of the CVC Ordinance, no act of the Commission shall be invalid merely because of any vacancy or any defect in the constitution of the Commission.

But that is only after the constitution of the Commission, not right at the outset. Is it not so?

I don't think so.

There is a lot of apprehension about the Personnel Secretary being the ex-officio member of the CVC since it is believed that the Government will retain control over the Commission through this post.

Such apprehensions are misplaced. The Commission can frame rules of business which will ensure that outside control over the Commission's work is not possible. And then there is this time-tested device of seniority which can also ensure that the CVCr has control over the CVC.

One major problem faced by the investigating agencies is that they do not have any say in the appointment or removal of their personnel. The agencies are therefore often saddled with corrupt and inefficient people who undermine and sabotage investigations from within.

There is a provision in the Ordinance for consultation with the CBI Director when appointments are made to the agency, as also for consultation with the incumbent Director before selecting a new Director. However, I see your point that in the case of the E.D., there is no such provision in either case. We will see what we can do about this.

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