Now, anti-graft officials to keep an eye on multi-state cooperatives

The government has started the process of appointing anti-corruption officials in multi-state societies like KRIBHCO and IFFCO to check allegations of graft in their functioning.

The move came after a decision by the department of personnel and training (DoPT), which acts as a nodal agency to ensure transparency in governance, to bring these multi-state societies under the ambit of the Central Vigilance Commission.

Accordingly, the government has appointed Alka Jha, a 1987 batch Indian Postal Service officer as chief vigilance officer (CVO) in Krishak Bharti Co-operative Ltd (KRIBHCO), Delhi, under the chemicals and fertilisers ministry.

Jha’s appointment as CVO, first in any multi-state co-operative, has been approved by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh-led appointments committee of the cabinet.
An order in this regard has also been issued.

The CVOs, who will act as distant arms of the CVC, will soon be appointed in other co-operatives in order to conduct inquiries on complaints of corruption and other such irregularities, DoPT officials said.

The decision to bring co-operative societies under the CVC came following complaints of alleged corruption against its officials, after which a legal opinion of the Attorney General was obtained. “The AG opined that the members, office-bearers and employees of multi-state co-operative societies would fall within the purview of Section 2(c) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, and that the CVC is empowered to exercise jurisdiction over them,” a DoPT order said.

The section explains those categories of public servants which can come under the ambit of the Prevention of Corruption Act.  It includes a person in the service or pay of a corporation established by or under a central, provincial or state Act, among others.

Societies like Indian Farmers Fertiliser Co-operative Ltd (IFFCO), National Agricultural Co-operative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (NAFED) and KRIBHCO, among others, were enjoying immunity from the CVC scanner before this order. Both DoPT and CVC are considering ways to strengthen vigilance mechanism in multi-cooperative societies to check any wrongdoing.

It is pertinent to mention that the CVC is already looking into complaints of alleged irregularities, including misuse of society’s funds, to corner a posh bungalow worth several crores in Delhi, against the managing director of IFFCO.

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