Thursday 03 Dec 2020

Lack of political will to fight corruption

Vigilance branch of the Vigilance Department has a pendency of more than 900 cases over the years

DR AASHISH KAMAT | NOVEMBER 01, 2020, 01:12 AM IST

TheGovernment of India is observing Vigilance Awareness Week from October 27 toNovember 2, 2020. This is observed every year during the week in which thebirthday of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (October 31) is also celebrated. Thisawareness week campaign affirms the commitment to the promotion of integrityand probity in public life through the participation of citizens.

Thetheme of this year's Vigilance Awareness Week is Satark Bharat, Samriddh Bharat(Vigilant India, Prosperous India). 

Duringthis period on earlier occasions, the Government of Goa and especially theVigilance Department officials used to interact with the public and would putacross the progress of the authorities concerned in dealing with corruption.They exhorted people to come ahead and play the role of vigilant citizens tocheck corruption and take the pledge to save India. 

We atUnited Goans Foundation took that pledge years back and all our members stayedcommitted to reducing corruption in society. While fulfilling our duties asresponsible citizens, we filed many corruption cases withdocumentary evidence before the Chief Vigilance Officer andVigilance/ ACB Vigilance departments of the State. However, even after aftermore than five years, all cases have been kept pending other than that one casewhere FIR was filed due to political reasons. 

Oncross-checking, we have understood that the Vigilance branch of the VigilanceDepartment has a pendency of more than 900 cases for years together. All thatone gets to hear is "investigation is in progress." It makes me askwhat is the use of filing a well-researched complaint which is presented withdocumentary evidence in the form of RTI documents. It appears that the veryagency, which is formed to check corruption, is an extension of the corruptsystem. 

TheDirector Vigilance and the ACB Vigilance have become a namesake department forthe Government to fool people that it is serious in tackling corruption. Ifthat is the case, then why not put out share data on the cases pending,investigated and chargesheets filed and people convicted. 

TheIndian democratic system is mired in corruption. In the present scheme ofthings, chief vigilance officers only act like forwarding agents and have losttheir sense of responsibility towards the citizens who are seeking justiceagainst the corrupt. 

In themiddle of this very important week, where pledges are made to root outcorruption, the State Vigilance Department should tell the people and thecomplainants what it has done to stop corruption. It should be ready for anopen discussion if it has truly worked to bring the corrupt to book. 

Citizenshave always noticed that IAS officers not only protect their own, but are nevercharged for any corrupt practices due to collusion with the State and Centralgovernments. Corruption as they say starts at the highest level and it is onlythe lower rung staff who are caught taking small bribes whilst officers whodeal in crores go scot-free. 

I wouldhave been ashamed if I was handed a responsibility as big as this and failed touphold it. 

It istime the Vigilance agencies uphold the commitment of freeing this society fromthe scourge of corruption that is eroding the society, like what the termitesdo to the wood.

Goadeserves better. God Save Goa and India from corruption as the protectorsthemselves have become violators. 

 

(Thewriter is President of United Goans Foundation)

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