Edited By: Pathikrit Sen Gupta
Last Updated: January 25, 2023, 00:41 IST
Amid a face-off between Punjab’s Bhagwant Mann government and the bureaucracy over the registration of corruption cases against some officials, the former on Tuesday seems to have taken a major step back, directing the Vigilance Bureau to comply with important sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA) before booking officials.
The recent arrests of senior IAS and PCS officers had triggered a major confrontation between the government and bureaucracy, which even led to the latter going on a mass casual leave for five days recently.
While the PCS officers were protesting against the “illegal” arrest of a colleague in Ludhiana, the IAS fraternity was up in arms against the arrest of senior IAS officer Neelima in connection with the industrial plot scam in which a former Congress minister has also been booked.
The protests had led to talks between the two sides following which PCS officials had withdrawn the strike after the government assured to look into the issue.
On Tuesday, the Punjab government issued detailed instructions to the chief director of the Vigilance Bureau, asking the agency to comply with provisions of Section 17A of the Prevention of Corruption Act. In both cases, consent from the competent authority under section 17A was not taken before the registration of a case against one officer and the arrest of the second officer.
The directions have been issued by the Vigilance Department, which has pointed out that statutory provisions are not being followed in letter and spirit by the VB, and it was being viewed “very seriously” by the government.
“Any violation of the instructions or colourful interpretation of facts or law to subvert the requirement of these mandatory provisions will be viewed very seriously and strict legal and departmental action will be taken against the delinquent officials,” said a memo from the Punjab government.
The memo reiterated, “Section 17 A of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 makes it mandatory for the investigating agencies to seek Prior Approval of the Competent Authority to conduct any enquiry or inquiry or investigation into any offence alleged to have been committed by a public servant under the PC Act, where the alleged offence is relatable to any recommendation m a d e or decision taken by a public servant in discharge of his official functions or duties.”
The SOPs issued by the Government of India, in this regard, have also been attached with the memo.
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