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Monday, 21 February, 2000, 14:46 GMT
Net shame for corrupt officials

Computer screen Net users can now see lists of officials on-line


By South Asia analyst Nazes Afros

The man in charge of monitoring corruption in India has started what he says is an extraordinary cyberwar against sleaze.

The Chief Vigilance Commissioner, Nagarajan Vittal, has started a website which names top civil servants who he says should either be prosecuted or be punished because of serious corruption offences.

The website of the chief vigilance commissioner (CVC) is likely to send shock waves among top-ranking civil servants.

Website image Up to 2,000 more names may appear on the site
It lists 185 officials who he recommends should either be prosecuted or severely punished if they have already been found guilty of dishonesty.

The list contains the names of some top bureaucrats and police officials.

Mr Vittal says that he is processing 2,000 more cases and those names will appear in his website soon.

The CVC conducts enquiries against government officials after receiving complaints of corruption.

On finding enough evidence, the CVC recommends either prosecution or punishment to the concerned government department.

Warning

Mr Vittal says that he has created the web site in order to warn officials that the CVC is alert and active.

"Ever since I became CVC, I have been trying to bring greater transparency. Therefore, all the orders of the CVC which are in the public domain have been put on the web site."

India rupee note Corruption cases go back to 1991
Mr Vittal says he was constantly being questioned about whether or not any action had been taken against senior officials accused of corruption.

Mr Vittal's website list has a column showing the status of cases where he has recommended action to be taken against named individuals.

He says that even though some of these recommendations were made as early as in 1991 or 1992, government departments have still not begun the judicial process.

Delays

He says that such delays are no longer acceptable.

"Once the names were published in the web site, some people said: Our names are on the site but we have not been served with a charge sheet under the departmental enquiry."


Departments being slow to act my indicate delay, or worse collusion
Nagarajan Vittal
He says this highlights the fact that the departments concerned, even after receiving the CVC's recommendation for departmental action, have been going slow.

"It may indicate probably inefficiency, therefore delay; or worse there could be collusion. By delay they may try to protect people against whom action has to be taken," he says

Mr Vittal says that naming individuals on his website is neither defamatory nor a contempt of court.

He says that the names of many accused are already well known and in the public domain.

He says that his website does not seek to pre-judge or condemn any official before they have had a fair trial.

The Indian Government, meanwhile, has refused to comment on the step taken by the CVC.

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