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Central Vigilance Commission – CVC – Explained For UPSC Exam

Introduction to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC)


Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) is an apex Indian governmental body created in 1964.

CVC was set up based on the recommendations of the Committee on Prevention  of Corruption, headed by Shri K. Santhanam, to advise and guide Central Government agencies in the field of vigilance.

The CVC became a Statutory Body with the enactment of CVC Act, 2003.

The CVC is an independent body, free of control from any executive authority, (It is NOT controlled by any ministry or department).

The CVC is responsible only to the Parliament.

The CVC is NOT an investigating agency. The CVC may have the investigation done through the CBI or Chief Vigilance Officers (CVO) in government offices.

Functions of CVC

  • The CVC monitors all vigilance activity under the Central Government
  • It advises various authorities in Central Government organizations in planning, executing, reviewing and reforming their vigilance work.
  • The CVC recommends appropriate action on complaints on corruption or misuse of power.
  • Lokpal, Central Government or Whistle blowers can approach the CVC regarding complaints.
  • The CVC – Under Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 – can inquire into offences reported against certain categories of Public Servants. (However, remember, CVC is NOT an Investigating agency).
  • The Annual Report of the CVC not only gives the details of the work done by it but also brings out the system failures which leads to corruption in various Departments/Organisations, system improvements, various preventive measures and cases in which the Commission’s advises were ignored etc.

Composition of Central Vigilance Commission

The CVC is comprised of 3 members:

  1. A Central Vigilance Commissioner (Chairperson)
  2. Up to Two Vigilance Commissioners (Members)
  • President of India appoints CVC members by warrant under his hand and seal.
  • The Oath of office is administered by the President.
  • A three-member committee made of – The Prime Minister, The Home Minister and The Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha – Makes the Recommendation for appointment of Vigilance Commissioners.
  • The Vigilance Commissioners are appointed for a term of Four years OR until they attain 65 years of age (whichever is earlier).
  • On retirement – they are NOT eligible for reappointment in any central or state government agency.

Removal of members (according to CVC Act)

The Central Vigilance Commissioner or any Vigilance Commissioner can be removed from his office only by order of the President on the ground of proved misbehavior or incapacity after the Supreme Court reports that the officer ought to be removed after inquiry, on a reference made to it by the President.

Also, a member can be removed if the member:

  1. Is Adjudged as an insolvent
  2. Is convicted of an offence that involves moral turpitude according to Central Government
  3. Engages in Office of profit outside the duties of his office
  4. Is declared unfit by reason of infirmity of mind or body, by the President
  5. Participates / Concerned / Interested to Participate – in any way in the profit / in any benefit – in any contract or agreement made by or on behalf of the Government of India

Criticism – Limited Powers of CVC

  • CVC is treated as an advisory body only as Central Government Departments are free to either accept or reject CVC’s advice in corruption cases.
  • The Commission has no jurisdiction over private individuals and organisations of the State Governments.
  • The CVC is left with no power to register criminal case.
  • The CVC cannot direct the CBI to initiate inquiries against any officer of the level of Joint Secretary and above. Hence, CVC neither has the resources nor the power to take action on complaints of corruption.
  • Appointments to CVC are indirectly under the control of Govt of India. Although, the leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha is a member of the committee that selects the CVC Members – the committee just considers the candidates that are put up before it, and these candidates are decided by the Government.
  • CVC is a very small set up with a sanctioned staff strength of 299, which is supposed to check corruption in more than 1500 central government departments and ministries.

Categories of Organisations falling under the Jurisdiction of CVC:

  1. Central Govt. Ministries/Departments
  2. Central Govt. Public Sector Undertakings
  3. Nationalised Banks, Insurance Companies
  4. Autonomous organisations created through an Act of the Parliament or under the administrative control of Government of India.
  5. Centrally administered territories.
  6. Societies and local authorities owned or controlled by the Govt. of India

*The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has NO jurisdiction over private individuals and organisations of the State Governments.

Category of Employees that CVC has Direct Jurisdiction over:

  • Members of All India Services – Serving in connection with the affairs of the Union.
  • Central Govt. Ministries/ Departments – Group ‘A’ Officers.
  • Central Public Sector Undertakings – Chief Executives and Executives on the Board and other officers above E-8 and E-7 Levels according to schedules.
  • Public Sector Banks – Scale V and above.
  • RBI/NABARD and SIDBI – Grade D and Above
  • General Insurance Companies – Manager and above
  • Life Insurance Corporation – Senior Divisional Manager and above
  • Societies and other local Authorities- Officers drawing salary of Rs. 8700/- and etc. above.
  • Port Trusts/Dock Labour Board etc.- Officers who are in pay of Rs. 10,750/- and above.

Extra Information: Whistleblower

  • A Whistleblower is someone who informs about a person or organization engaged in such illicit activity, and whistleblowing is defined as an act of disclosing information by an employee or any concerned stakeholder about an illegal or unethical conduct within an organization.
  • If a complainant while exposing a case of corruption wants his identity to be kept secret, he/she should lodge a complaint under Public Interest Disclosure and Protection of Informers Resolution (PIDPIR) – popularly known as Whistle Blower Provision.
  • The Central Vigilance Commission is mandated not only to maintain the secrecy of the complainant’s identity but also provide protection to the complainant against any physical threat, harassment or victimization.
  • The Whistleblower Protection Act, 2014 establishes a mechanism to receive complaints related to disclosure of allegations of corruption or wilful misuse of power or discretion, against any public servant, and to inquire or cause an inquiry into such disclosure; and to provide adequate safeguards against victimisation of the Whistleblower.
November 2023