March 17th, 2017
[Note: After publishing the article on The Facebook page, our community members brought this to our notice that CVC has denied the report that its online data wiped out after server crash. The anti-graft body has told Outlook that there was no loss of data but “inability in reading certain files” due to platform migration.]
In a major jolt to PM Modi’s digital India campaign, it has been found that the country’s anti-graft (anti-corruption) watchdog portal Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has remained non-functioning for almost the past four months.
CVC is an apex Indian governmental body created in 1964 to address governmental corruption. It is an autonomous body charged with monitoring all vigilance activity under the government of India, advising various authorities in central government organisations in planning, executing, reviewing, and reforming their vigilance work.
The portal of the CVC crashed on 28 November 2016 and all the data stored online until that date has been lost. India Today‘s sources imply that the data was not backed up.
Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) maintained CVC’s portal. Things have turned worse as the contract with TCS expired in December. There is no annual maintenance contract between CVC and TCS.
Following the catastrophe, National Informatics Centre (NIC), which is the centre’s web services organisation, took over the responsibility of maintaining CVC’s portal from 2017. Despite many efforts to retrieve the data, it hasn’t shown much success. All the particulars pertaining to the previous cases have been erased permanently.
Case of alleged corruption in NTC
One of the cases belongs to the alleged corruption in National Textile Corporation (NTC) under the Union Ministry of Textiles, which is now headed by Smriti Irani.
In 2013, a Mumbai-based whistleblower, HR Kosia, had filed an RTI with the CVC demanding action against the alleged corruption in the NTC. He had accused the NTC chairman-cum-managing director PC Vaish of selling Mumbai-based Poddar Process Malharvadi Kalbadevi godown worth crores to private builders Om Vastu Shanti for mere Rs 75 lakh in 2013. The transaction was allegedly done without due tendering or any approval as such from Union Ministry of Textiles and NTC’s Board of Directors.
Kosia, the deputy manager (security and vigilance) with NTC, had to pay the hefty price of losing his job in 2016 for bringing the corruption to light. And all of this was done without the Textile Ministry filing any charge sheet or registering an FIR against him.
You can read the RTIs and the reply here: India Today.
Kosia had filed an RTI against the same in the CVC, to which the CVC director Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) Jyoti Trivedi replied on December 22, 2016. He said, “due to a technical problem in the working of complaint portal of the Commission, it is not possible to provide the action taken on your complaint at this stage.”
She asked Kosia to take the matter to the CVC additional secretary Praveen Sinha. Sinha replied echoing the same problem stated by the CPIO – the portal was not functioning.
Sinha said, “I direct the CPIO concerned (Jyoti Trivedi) to confirm the position regarding complaints mentioned by the appellant in his RTI application and provide an appropriate reply to him within 15 days of the receipt of these orders.”
Sinha further said, “The issues raised by the appellant have thus been addressed appropriately. However, if the appellant is not satisfied with the above decision, he can make an appeal with the Central Information Commission (CIC). The appeal is accordingly disposed (of).”
Jyoti Trivedi has sent a second reply to Kosia on February 9, on which she said, “TCS system of the Commission is still not working. It is not possible to provide the action taken on your complaints at this stage.”
The future of Kosia’s application is supposedly uncertain along with thousands of such cases.
On one hand, a whistleblower struggles to prove a case of corruption, while on the other hand, action against several alleged corrupt government officials may not be taken ever. The loss of data is a major blow to our Prime Minister’s crusade against corruption.
To read more, India Today.