It is rightly said that “a Veil of secrecy has its benefits. Under its cover ‘facts’ can be manufactured easily. Such manufactured facts elevate us to such an extent that we feel we are a match for any one in the world”. That is what has happened with our Vigilance system in the Railways. In manufacturing facts we consider most unrealistic things, work with our own ideas, never question right things from the charged officials and frame the person rather then the charge. In doing so the learned officers try to prove 2 2=5. If you question then they say that there may be error in counting 2 but figure of 5 is correct. If you further tell something they behave ostrich like & flatly tell we have made up our mind and now don’t confuse us anymore with facts.
The success story of Railway Vigilance is not in curbing the corruption but soft targets .In the name of secrecy facts are suppressed and stories fabricated. How the low quality system prevails when Railway Board vigilance in one of circular says that ‘Where lapses committed by defaulting officers have been pinpointed and action recommended, chargesheet for only major penalty should be issued irrespective of the extent and nature of irregularities before sending the case to Board. Further action as deemed fit may be taken on receipt of 2nd stage advice of CVC. However while framing this rule its repercussion is not thought of as even for minor nature irregularity , with issue of major penalty chargesheet ,the concerned officer’s retirement benefits may be stopped till finalization of case. ( Railway Board letter No. 94/V-1/CVC/1/3 dated 5/10/94 ).
The Railway vigilance manual was a privileged document till 2006 when the then Advisor, Vigilance Railway Board Shri Mathew John decided to make it public and the task was given to the then Shri Adesh Sharma ED/Vig and his team and they did commendable job in publishing it & also putting it on website. It is only after this exercise many people knew something about it. As per the manual (Chapter 1 Annx 1/1) Addl Member/Advisor (V) will be head of Railway Vigilance at Board Level assisted by EDs of different departments. In Zonal Railway SDGM will head the system assisted by Dy. CVOs/VOs also from different branches.
It is expected that officers so posted as Advisor and also SDGM have adequate exposure of Railway matters mainly tender procedures the main source of complaints as it involves huge sums of money being spent in contractual systems. It is also expected that at least officers posted as SDGM should not involve himself in such procedures involving money which raise somebody’s eyebrows. It is equally necessary for SDGM to see that correct procedures during investigations as prescribed in Vigilance manual is followed ( Para 411.3) and a proper opportunity is given to charged official to explain his conduct vis a vis allegation as mentioned in para 411.5.
There are other guidelines also issued by Railway Board on the subject like when minor or major chargesheet should be recommended in vigilance related investigations and also the quantum of punishments. (Refer Railway Board Conf letter to all Genearal Managers isuued vide No. 98/V-1/ meet/4/1 dated 8/9/98 ). But in actual practice SDGM do the work in routine manner as a faithfull servant of Railway Board Vigilance and CVC . The General Manager too take little interest and forward the case to Railway Board endorsing vigilance views leaving it to be decided finally by Railway Board.
The simple reason is that Railway never posts correct and knowledgeable and draught forward persons on these posts. Most of the SDGMs particularly from non-technical category don’t even understand the basic tender system and related guidelines/rules issued and fully rely on what their deputy says. as in their life time they hardly dealt tender cases being part of the tender committees dealing works matters. Sometime they talk like a babe in woods but their unmeaning full words are taken as it came from Bible or Gita not because they speak with knowledge/rules but with the authority of SDGM even if the words are with forked tongue.
A glaring example of fair and just certificate of Railway Board and CVC came to light when one of their appointee ie. SDGM/NWR was caught enjoying drinks in a five star hotel and another CVI was trapped by CBI accepting bribe from none other than his own colleague. Inspite of punishing, SDGM was transferred to other Railway serving his transfer order at his residence and CVI is facing trial in CBI court for alleged misconduct on his part.The success story of Railway Vigilance is mainly in piling up the cases of complaints of trivial nature. Violation of rules/procedures etc and failure story remains in leaving the big fish like retired GM/NWR and Ex. Chief of RPF/NWR who were later nabbed by CBI on complaints of not taking any action by Railway vigilance.
The CVC plays a major role in deciding the vigilance cases against Group A Officers as final powers to close a case lie with them. CVC has grabbed full control over all central Govt deptt in vigilance cases and don’t rely on any deptt when they say all cases of group A officers will be referred to them for action or closure. It only means that if nothing is found even Railway Board can not close the case. . In major enquiry cases too they don’t permit CO to comment on findings by inquiry officers but permit their counter part sitting in Zonal or Railway Board to comment who only do the work of preparing disagreement memo on the charges found not proved by EO.
And CVC gives its final verdict based on EO report, Disagreement memo and DA views which deprives CO to represent if something is left in the eyes of EO which is a cause of resentment by CO but this one sided affair continues and so the sufferings. In imposing its will on DA, CVC plays a decisive role when it first says that “DA in no case imply that any decision is taken under the influence of CVC as commission is only a advisory body and it is for the DA to apply his mind subsequent to obtaining the commission’s advice and take reasoned decisions on each occasion. (Rly Bd. Letter No. 2003/V-1/CVC/1/19 dated 19/04/04). And yet DA can not take independent decision as another letter binds his hands when it says Disciplinary Authority should pass the speaking orders based on 2nd stage advice of CVC only.
There is provision in Railway Vigilance Manual para 209/C that cases of procedural lapses involving extra expenditures/loss of money to Govt should be referred to CVC. But Railway unable to decide as what to do with cases not involving above irregularity sends all the cases to CVC for advice and CVC in turn whether required or not tenders its unmeaningfull advice which only puts concerned officer at receiving end. This is more harmful to officers retiring in near future as any action at the time of retirement stops their retirement benefits.
Another fashion which is harming the system and demoralizing the officers is blindly issuing major penalty chargesheet which takes minimum 4 to 5 years to finalise against the schedule of 1 year and end up with minor penalties as nothing serious is established during enquiry in most of the cases. Though Railway Board has issued guidelines vide No98/V-1/meet/4/1 dated 8/9/98 that in vigilance related investigations major penalty should only be recommended where prima facie malafide is indicated, caused heavy financial loss and also in trap cases but vigilance department flout their own rules openly.
The weakest link in Railway is its officers as they most of the time remain divided and unorganized and Vigilance remains winner most of the time. Will Zonal and Railway Board vigilance finally CVC wake up and do the justice to sleeping officers facing problems before they wake up to clean the system. In fact Railway Board can do lot by ordering a reforms committee on vigilance matters involving all the five federations and implement for the benefit of the system. Sooner is better. Wake up Vigilance bosses of Railways and ensure that…
1. Case is properly investigated strictly in terms of para 411.3 of Railway Vigilance Manual.
2. Clarification vis a vis allegation should be taken instead of taking clarification on one issue and charging another issue.in terms of para 411.5 of Rly. Vig. Manual.
3. Technical comments of the PHOD to be nullified with established rules and not by wihms.
4. Cases of procedural lapses not involving financial loss need not be referred to CVC in terms of para 209/C of Railway Vigilance Manual .Instead administrative action if required should meet ends of justice.
5. Take action against vigilance officers who frame the cases wrongly and specially when charges framed are not proved.
6. Appoint appropriate and competent officers as enquiry officers as in many cases the persons having no exposures are made enquiry officers and they fully depend them on Presenting Officers appointed by Vigilance which only damage the case and tilts it in vigilance favour and at end,
7. Stop one sided affair as :
a) Case investigated by Vigilance,
b) Charges are framed by vigilance
c) Railway Board Vigilance obtains CVC advice
d) Charge sheet is prepared routed through SDGM to GM for issue. GM has no choice but to sign. He never questions why Major Penalty is being issued when earlier he recommended minor one
e) EO appointed by Railway Board Vigilance and GM simply signs it. Normally one name is advised by Board. Officers are treated worse then Group C staff where at least 3 names are suggested to DA for appointing EO
f) PO is appointed by Vigilance who always try to influence EO
g) Finding of EO is submitted to Vigilance to offer remarks then GM then Railway Board Vigilance then Board Member then CVC and when every thing is decided in form of 2nd stage advice Charged Official is asked to submit defence which is only a formality as after 2nd stage advice of CVC case more or less stands finalized. Taking clarification is empty formality as penalty already pre-decided. Curtsy- RailS