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Central Vigilance Commission – Indian Polity Notes

Central Vigilance Commission was established by an executive order in February 1964 based on recommendations of Committee on Prevention of Corruption led by K Santhanam. Committee made two recommendations, renaming of Special Police Establishment to Central Bureau of Investigation and widening it’s scope. Second was to establish a vigilance commission.

Post Vineet Narain Case of 1997, an ordinance was promulgated by the President and thus, Central Vigilance Commission was granted statutory status in August 1998. 

The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) Act was passed in 2003.


As per CVC Act of 2003, it contains:

  • Central Vigilance Commissioner which acts as chairperson of commission.
  • Not more than 2 vigilance commissioners.


The Central Vigilance Commissioner and other two commissioners have tenure of 4 years or until age of 65 years whichever is earlier.


Under Section 3 of CVC Act 2003:

The members of commission including chairperson shall satisfy following conditions:

  • should either have held a civil post in the Union or a position in the government-owned or controlled corporation. 
  • Should have expertise in the matters of banking, finance, investigations and administrations.


Appointments to the commission are made by the President on recommendations of a committee comprising Prime Minister, Union Home Minister and Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha.


Central Vigilance Commission is apex vigilance institution. It is to act free from control of any executive agency.

It is tasked with, monitoring all vigilance activities under central government and advising various authorities in central government in planning, executing, reviewing and performing vigilance work.

Under CVC Act 2003, the functions are:

  • To exercise superintendence over functioning of Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE)  with regards to investigations under Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 or offences under CrPC for certain category of offences and give directions to DSPE to discharge their responsibilities🡺 Superintendence
  • To review the progress of investigation conducted by DSPE for offences alleged to have been committed under Prevention of Corruption Act🡺 Review

To undertake or cause an inquiry into complaints received under public interest disclosure and protection of informed and recommend appropriate action🡺 Cause inquiry.


Section 6 of CVC Act deals with removal of members of the commission.

They can be removed from the office by the President in cases of:

  • Insolvency
  • If they are convicted in offences involving moral turpitude.
  • Incapable to hold office
  • Proved misbehaviour & incapacity.
    • To remove the members on this ground, the government shall prove misbehaviour and incapacity before Supreme Court.

Jurisdiction of CVC:

“Public Servants” under central government are under jurisdiction of CVC. The term ‘public servant’ includes:

  • All India Services & Group A services.
  • Officers above rank-V in public sector banks.
  • Officers above grade D in NABARD.
  • Officials in public sector undertakings.
  • Managers of General Insurance Companies.
  • Any other office added to the list by government time to time.


When idea of Central Vigilance Commission was first envisaged in K Santhanam Committee Report, it intended strong institution which will track down the corruption with its effective vigilance. The present working of the commission is divorced from its original conception.

It provides ‘soft supervision’. Further post Vineet Narain Case when the commission was given statutory status and was tasked with supervision over working of CBI, it is been held by the Supreme Court it’s working is far from satisfactory.

Further since Act is passed in 2003, the office has left vacant for most of duration, making it ineffective. Supreme Court, time and again has given directions to central government for filling vacancies in transparent manner. Latest directions came in September 2022, after which appointments to commission have been made.

By far biggest problem is the commission has not been given an investigative arm(unit) of its own. It defeat entire purpose, as if it has to cause an inquiry into corruption allegations on an CBI officer, it has to ask CBI only to cause investigation in matter.

Way Forward:

The Central Vigilance Commission Act 2003, needs an amendment to give more teeth to apex vigilance agency of India. It shall be made free ‘in real sense’ from executive interference by state and shall be given complete superintendence powers over functioning of CBI. Timely appointments and security of tenure is to be granted so that they can work without undue pressure from political masters at Delhi.

To complete UPSC Polity Notes, Click Here

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