Curbing Corruption in Himachal Pradesh: A Study of State Vigilance and Anticorruption Machinery

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1 Curbing Corruption in Himachal Pradesh: A Study of State Vigilance and Anticorruption Machinery Mamta Mokta * Biswajit Bandyopadhyay ** Introduction Corruption is one the greatest challenges of our age. It is a challenge that must and can be confronted. There is no short cut, and no easy answers. In the new millennium, the corruption to a greater or lesser extent poses a threat not only to the environment, human rights, democratic institutions fundamental right and freedom, but it also undermines development and deepens poverty for millions the world over. Objectives of the Study The study intends to achieve the following objectives: To examine the organizational setup and functioning of the State Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau in Himachal Pradesh. To study the various issues relating to efficiency in working of anti corruption machinery like procedure of work, recruitment, promotion, training, job satisfaction and political interference. To examine people s perception about the working of anti corruption machinery in the state. To suggest modalities for improvement in the functioning of the State Vigilance and Anti-Corruption. *Professor in Department of Public Administration, Himachal Pradesh University. **Research Scholar in Department of Public Administration, Himachal Pradesh University 1

2 Research Methodology Primary data has been collected through two set of Interview schedules. Schedule A for officials working in District Shimla Southern range of State Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau to know their views regarding work environment, job preference, attitude of seniors and police-public relations. Schedule- B was administered to general public in District Shimla to know their perception about functioning of Southern range of State Vigilance and Anti Corruption Machinery. Selection of Sample Random Sampling has been used for selection of sample. For increasing precision of a sample random sample stratification has also been done. The sample has been broadly divided into, Police Sample and Non-Police Sample. The police sample was stratified into the following sub-groups: Category Units Dy. S.P and above 10 Inspectors 10 Sub Inspector including Assistant Sub Inspectors 10 Head Constables 10 Constables 10 The non-police sample has been divided into the following sub-groups: Category Units Students 15 Government Employees 15 Businessmen 15 Householders 15 Advocates 15 Journalists 15 2

3 State Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau (Sv and Acb) in Himachal Pradesh Various State Governments have also on the pattern of CVC, established State Vigilance Commission, and performed similar functions as that of the CVC. The similarity of the period of functioning as well as of its composition is indicative of the fact that the inspiration and leadership came from the Central Government. Like the Central Vigilance Commission, the State Vigilance Commission owes its existence to executive resolution. The Government of Himachal Pradesh vide Notification No. Per (Vig)A-4(4)2/99 dated has created the State Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau after unification of Enforcement and Vigilance Departments. The State Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau is to investigate, detect prevent offences and investigate leakage of the State Government funds by private persons or Govt. employees, and violation of economic laws applicable in the State. The State Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau is responsible to deal with the following types of cases, enquiries and offences under i) Indian Penal Code. ii) The Prevention of Corruption Act, iii) The H.P Prevention of Specific Corrupt Practices Act, iv) The Essential Commodities Act, v) The Narcotics drugs and Psychotropic Substances, Act, vi) The Motor Vehicle Act, vii) Indian Forest Act, viii) Punjab Excise Act, 1914 as applicable in Himachal Pradesh. ix) HP Forest (Sale of Timber) Act, x) Central Sales Tax Act, xi) The Wild Life Protection Act, Organisation and Working of State Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau in Himachal Pradesh 3

4 The Government of Himachal Pradesh has created the State Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau after unification of Enforcement and Vigilance Departments on for eradication of corruption from the State. The Bureau is presently headed by the Director General of Police/Additional Director General of Police and assisted by the Inspector General of Police and Deputy Inspector General of Police and four Superintendent of Police, 12 Deputy Superintendent of Police and other staffs. It has three ranges Southern Range, Northern Range and Central Range with its headquarters at Shimla, Dharmshala and Mandi and one Special Investigating Unit at Shimla. The Ranges headquarters at Shimla, Dharmshala and Mandi are headed by Superintendent of Police and the Special Investigation Unit is also headed by SP (SIU). The State Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau has its 12 Police Stations, one in each district headed by the officers of the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police. The Southern Range comprises districts of Shimla, Solan, Sirmour and Kinnaur, Northern Range comprises districts of Kangra, Una and Chamba and Central Range comprises Mandi, Kullu, Lahaul & Spiti, Hamirpur and Bilaspur districts. Under the Prevention and Corruption Act 1988 and other Articles of Cr.P.C, 342 cases has been registered in State Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau in which 63 Gazetted Officers, 176 Non-Gazetted Officers and 231 others personnel were arrested upto The constant increase of highway corruption is a matter of great challenges to the SV&ACB in Himachal Pradesh. The Government of Himachal Pradesh vide Notification No.Per(Vig)A- 4(4)2/99 dated has created the State Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau (SV&ACB) after unification of Enforcement and Vigilance Departments to enquire/investigate the cases relating to corruption in public services and economic offences. The Director General/Additional Director General of Police is the head of the State Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau in the State. He is assisted by the Inspector General of Police and Deputy Inspector General of Police and 4

5 Superintendent of Police. The post of ADIGP/IGP/DIGP of State Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau has not been shown in the organisational structure of Himachal Pradesh Police because the above wing has been isolated from the State Police Force and is directly accountable to the Home Secretary. Hence, SV&ACB is not a part of State Police Hierarchy. For preventing corruption, the whole Pradesh has been divided into twelve districts, further for effective control these twelve districts have been grouped into three zones, viz. Southern Range, Central Range and Northern Range. Chart No. 1 Organisational Structure of State Vigilance and Anti-Corruption and Bureau in Himachal Pradesh DG/ADGP IG/DIG IG/DIG SP/CR, MANDI SP/NR, D/SHALA SP/SR, SHIMLA SP/SIU, SHIMLA MANDI Addl. SP PS D/SHALA Addl. SP PS SHIMLA TECHNICAL UNITS HAMIRPUR CHAMBA SOLAN CRIME BRANCH BILASPUR UNA NAHAN ADMN. BRANCH KULLU KINNAUR L&S Source: State Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau Head Quarter, Shimla. The State Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau are required to register every type of corruption and economic offences reported by the citizens and to take action 5

6 accordingly. An insight into intelligence working of SV&ACB can be had by analyzing trends of cases registered with SV&ACB as given in Table No. 1. TABLE NO. 1 Total Number of Cases Registered in SV&ACB during last 6 years Year Cases Registered Figure 1 (a) Number of Cases Registered in SV&ACB Year wise during last six years Source : State Vigilance and Anti-corruption Bureau Headquarter, Shimla. It is evident from analysis of Table No. 1 that number of cases registered in SV&ACB has increased from the year 2006 to Corruption cases registered under various heads in the year 2006 was only 65 whereas it was increased to 110 in year Hence, corruption is increasing gradually all over the Pradesh and 6

7 number of people who are approach SV&ACB is also on the rise. The State Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau is to investigate, detect prevent offences and investigate leakage of the State Government funds by private persons or Government employees, and violation of economic laws applicable in the State. In investigating the corruption cases trap cases play very important role. Table No.2 Number of Trap Cases Registered in SV&ACB from 2006 to 2011 Year No of Trap Cases No of GOs Trapped Figure 2(b) Comparative Statement of Registration of Trap Cases in SV&ACB during last 6 years 7

8 Source : State Vigilance and Anti-corruption Bureau Headquarter, Shimla. From Table No. 2, it is pertinent that number of trap cases registered during last six years has increased. In the year 2006 only 16 trap cases ware registered whereas the number increased to 44 in 2009 and it decreased slightly to 35 in In the year 2009, 30 Gazetted Officers and 60 Non-Gazetted Officers were arrested from all over Himachal Pradesh in this regard. Thus number of trap cases is increasing year after year and efficiency of SV&ACB is also improving. State Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau officials accepted that there was an increase in trap cases, unearthing of disproportionate assets and number of convictions and at the same time corruption rate had also gone up in the past few years. In order to assess the functioning of SV&ACB, schedule was administered to officials working in Southern range of SV&ACB and public of District Shimla. Major finding of study are given below. Findings Regarding Official Perception Majority of 78 percent sample officials working in SV&ACB felt that there is shortage of adequate staff in the SV&ACB and they feel overburdened which 8

9 also affects their efficiency in dealing with cases. 84 percent considered that technically trained personnel are required for smooth functioning of the department. It was observed by them that there was lack of trained personnel in the SV&ACB as no personnel has been given any special training before joining in the State Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau from Himachal Pradesh Police. Hence, police personnel posted in the Bureau on transfer from Himachal Pradesh Police were not technically trained and there was need of appointing more technically trained personnel in SV&ACB. It was found that majority of respondents viewed training imparted to the police personnel at the time of joining police services not fulfilling the present requirements of the SV&ACB. Majority of officials were not satisfied with the present recruitment policy of the government. Majority of respondents had grudges that no separate cadre for SV&ACB was there for smooth functioning of the department as the gazetted and non-gazetted police personnel came from Himachal Pradesh Police on temporary transfer basis to SV&ACB. Most of the police personnel in the lower ranks are dissatisfied with the salary being paid, i.e. Constable is being paid equivalent to the clerical cadre of the public sector who works just for 7 hours daily with one day off after 6 days of duty whereas police personnel work regularly round the clock daily without getting any off day. All cadres of police squarely blamed that politicians and higher level civil servants are main pressurising agents in the process of investigation of SV&ACB. 56 percent police respondents had opined that their work was hard and difficult to large extent and the police personnel of SV&ACB do not have sufficient time for rest and recreation. 9

10 52 percent respondents expressed their feeling that they feel stressed while working in office, while 48 percent respondents felt no stress while working. 52 percent respondents are under pressure and do not feel comfortable while working and investigating corruption cases. FINDINGS OF PUBLIC PERCEPTION Awareness level among public on SV&ACB in the Shimla district is basically poor percent public respondents of various sections stated that they are not aware about functioning of SV&ACB. Awareness level of helpline number and website of SV&ACB is as low as 6.67 percent and 4.44 percent respectively. Hence, it is observed that awareness level among the public is not satisfactory and awareness programme of advertising agencies viz. newspapers, radio and television to the people in Shimla district is not upto the mark. Due to fear of harassment and inefficiency of the SV&ACB people don t approach SV&ACB for redressal of their grievances percent of people responded could not lodge a complaint to the SV&ACB because of fear of harassment, percent felt that due to inefficiency of the SV&ACB they have not approached them. Majority of them realised that they would be subject to lot of mental agony and torture at every step from the moment they lodged the complaint therefore despite their willingness they did not lodge complaint percent people from Shimla reported that the SV&ACB is performing its role in a better way while percent respondents declared as not to any extent as their option ticked "no opinion" was by percent percent of the public response was that press can help in enforcing Zero Tolerance for eradication corruption in Himachal Pradesh. People are reluctant to go to the SV&ACB for help even when they are in 10

11 need. They do not report the instances of corruptions due to the fear of their unnecessarily getting involved with the SV&ACB. But even then they do think that a common man is duty bound to help the SV&ACB. Considering the above findings following suggestions are given to improve the performance of SV&ACB for curbing corruption from Himachal Pradesh. Suggestions The efficiency of police organisation ultimately depends upon the quality of men who are recruited at various levels. There is no direct recruitment procedure in SV&ACB. The police personnel posted in the SV&ACB are come from Himachal Pradesh Police on the basis of temporary transfer. It appears that from the present study that lowest cadre and middle cadre of SV&ACB unhappy with recruitment policy of the government to a larger extent. Hence, it is suggested that recruitment procedures need to be improved after developing proper job description for each job. Sincere efforts should be made to design a scientific and objective selection procedure in order to select right type of persons for the job. These persons should be capable of taking independent, impartial and objective decisions. There should be scientific outlook and capable of standing against illegal actions. The training needs to be upgraded to meet the present requirements. Promotion is the best incentive that can be provided to the employees for job satisfaction, best performance of their assignments and boosting of their morale. It is suggested that the Home Department of Himachal Pradesh must review the promotional avenues. The success of State Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau to eradicate corruption from the State depends on public support and cooperation of people. Officials should develop good rapport with the general public. In general, it is believed that the functioning of the officials of SV&ACB is 11

12 considerably influenced by the politicians and the politicians can get the officials do whatever they want to do. It is observed that when politically elected persons head the police department, political control of police with regard to day to day cases of favouritism and nepotism can not be ruled out. Hence, there is a need to be initiated to minimise the political interference and increase the faith of general public in functioning of State Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau. Further, to overcome the problems it is suggested that SV&ACB should be given autonomy. All powers vested in the Home Secretary should be transferred to the Director General of SV&ACB. He should be accountable to the Legislature and the Judiciary and not to a particular political boss. To boost the morale of the official of SV&ACB the following measures have been suggested to provide high level of job satisfaction. i) To give sufficient time for recreation and rest to the police personnel. ii) To meet the need of housing for police personnel especially of the nongazetted ranks, the SV&ACB should approach the Government for financial assistance under the Police Housing Scheme immediately. iii) Congenial work environment should be created in the department so that every personnel feels secure and may work freely. It will help in the development and effectiveness of the department. iv) To mitigate the political interference in the police working of SV&ACB, it is suggested that there should be code of conduct for the politicians. The Government and senior officer should give due support to the officers acting in just, fair and straight-forward manner. Due to inadequate staff strength police personnel are unable to avail full quota of leave and unable to fulfil urgent domestic obligation. Hence, strength of SV&ACB is also required to be increased sufficiently as the present strength is 12

13 negligible. The number of offices and staff in SV&ACB in Himachal Pradesh need to be increased so that becomes more convenient for the general public to approach SV&ACB. Investigation of serious matters are neglected in the absence of poor transport and communication facilities. Hence, there is an urgent need to provide more vehicles and also replace the old vehicles in place of new ones. Patrol vans attached to the Police Station should be fitted with indigenous communication equipments. In restructuring the administration of SV&ACB, a high priority should be given to the strengthening of the police stations. Public expectations from the police can only be fruitful if public is satisfied with the integrity, professionalism, fortitude, impartiality and promptness in the services rendered by the jurisdiction of police station. Another important remedial measures to curb corrupt practices is that arrangement must be made that no one, however, highly placed, is immune from enquiry if allegations against them are made by responsible parties and if prime facie case exists. The powers of licensing and controls constitute a big source of corruption. Therefore government must evolve a fool proof administrative machinery for granting licences for and exercising control over various commodities. The key factor responsible for combating corruption effectively in the State is the political will. Political will is the most important pre-requisite as a comprehensive anti corruption strategy will fail if it is not supported by the political leadership. Knowledge of SV&ACB functioning among the school, college, and university students shall change the police-public attitude with one another. The school children fear anti corruption machinery for no reasons, the college students are always suspicious of anti corruption machinery functioning, and the university students 13

14 neglect the anti corruption machinery subject. Hence, it is high time the anti corruption machinery should be a friend, guide and philosopher of the people in crisis, in peace and tranquillity. Awareness level among the public on SV&ACB is not satisfactory. Majority of People in district Shimla are neither aware of the SV&ACB nor its telephone number on website. Therefore, it is suggested that awareness programmes should be spread through advertising agencies viz., newspapers, radio and television to the people in Shimla district. Further, SV&ACB can also use cartoons characters to spread awareness about the way of SV&ACB operates. Lectures and awareness programmes can be organised by senior vigilance officers in school, colleges, government offices to increase awareness among young people about various important laws, bailable and non-bailable offences, rights of the citizens and remedial measures in case of any violation of the rights. It is suggested that efforts should be made to motivate the people at large to cooperate with the officials of SV&ACB by lodging complaints of corruption and giving full support in investigation of corruption cases. On the other hand, SV&ACB officials should also not harass the people and ensure protection to those who come to them with the information of corruption. Persons who help the SV&ACB in apprehending the criminals should be suitably rewarded to motivate other people for their cordial cooperation. In the ultimate analysis, it may be mentioned that the administrative machinery in our country is in a state of indeptness. It is characterised by its politicization, corrupt practices and centralised decision-making. Administrative reforms should, therefore, be made a priority endeavour. The expanded role of government calls for a new kind of technical and managerial experience that would reduce the rigidity of the existing system and gear it primarily to achieving the broad objectives of development. Corruption can be out only when the politicians choose to 14

15 root it out. Where softness of state exists, people are reluctant to uphold laws which get in the way of their personal and sectional interest. Hence, the most fundamental requisite is that of determined leadership. Movements like those from Anna Hazare & Baba Ramdev would do well to mobilize public opinion and fight the menance. Swami Vivekananda has put beautifully the ideals of service which must be practised by the public servants: It is a great privilege For all of us To do anything for the world In helping the world We really help ourselves. References Fadia, B.L. and Fadia, Kuldeep. Indian Administration. Agra: Sahitya Bhawan Publications, Kashyap, Subhash C. Our Constitution. New Delhi: National Book Trust, Laxmi, Kanth M. Public Administrion. New Delhi: Mc Graw Hill s, Parmar, M.S. Problems of Police Administration. New Delhi: Reliance Publishing House, Prasad, Binayak. Corruption at Public Places. New Delhi: Civil Service Chronicle, Shariq, Mashhadi. CVC s Attempt to Cleanse the System. New Delhi: Civil Service Chronicle, Singh, Sahib Bhayana and Singh Swinder. Corruption in Public Services, Some Problems and Issues. Edited by Bhatnagar S.S. and Sharma. S.K. Corruption in Indian Politics and Bureaucracy, New Delhi: Ess Ess Publications, Sri Latha, P. Governance in India: The issue of Corruption in Governance for Development. Edited by Sahni Pradeep and Medury Uma. New Delhi: Printice Hall of India, Bhatnagar, S. and Sharma, S.K. Corruption: In Indian Politics and Bureaucracy. New Delhi: Ess Ess Publications,

16 Government of India, Annual Report. New Delhi: Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions Information gathered from State Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau HQr. Shimla. 16

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