Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Conflict of interest 101

The Delhi High Court has ordered the government to respond to a public interest litigation seeking an independent inquiry into corruption charges in the Assam Rifles. According to this article in the Indian Express:
The Delhi High court on Friday issued notices to the Home Ministry, the Defence Ministry and the Assam Rifles after a plea pointed out that an inquiry by the vigilance department into allegations of corruption was “neither fair nor proper” as the director general of the paramilitary force, accused of corruption himself, was also the head of the department. 
The force had initiated an inquiry into the allegations in September 2014 after a sting operation by the magazine Tehelka alleged corruption in the awarding of civil contracts by the Assam Rifles and claimed that the Director General, the Additional Director General and the Chief Engineer of the force were receiving bribes for the contracts through a Junior Commissioned Officer. 
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The petition, filed by a former personnel of the Assam Rifles, sought an external and independent inquiry. 
“The said sting operation specifically reveals that some Assam Rifles personnel used to take bribes from private contractors at various levels for the smooth passage of tenders, thereby tarnishing the organisation as a whole. The bribes are openly taken by the men in uniform sitting inside their respective offices,” it stated. 
The petitioner, 65-year-old Rampat Singh, alleged that the inquiry is “bad in law, illegal, improper and biased as the same is against the principal of natural justice and against the directive principles of state policy”. He pointed out that officials of the Assam Rifles who are conducting the inquiry are subordinates of the DG, who has been named in the sting operation, and the Vigilance Department was under his control as well. 
The plea also raised the legal issue of whether a junior officer can proceed with a departmental inquiry into allegations made against a superior officer, who is also in charge of the principal office.

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