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In a recent ruling, the Kerala High Court has upheld the power of the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) to initiate cases under the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act of 1988 against employees affiliated with the Central government. Justice Kauser Edappagath's decision emphasized that neither the Prevention of Corruption Act nor the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act of 1946 contains provisions prohibiting State police or specialized State agencies from probing corruption allegations involving Central government employees.
The judgement clarifies that no provisions within the PC Act or DSPE Act exclusively empower bodies like the CBI, Central Vigilance Commission, or any other Central government agency to investigate matters related to corruption among Central government employees singularly. Since there's no explicit clause in these Acts that strips State police or a special agency of the State of their competence to investigate offences under other applicable laws, the State police and specialized State agencies retain the authority to register and investigate crimes attributed to Central government employees within their jurisdiction.
The court's ruling underlines that the VACB, as a specialized entity established to tackle bribery, corruption, and misconduct primarily under the PC Act, inherently possesses the competence to examine corruption-related cases transpiring within the State. This holds regardless of whether the alleged wrongdoing involves a Central government or State government employee.
The court's pronouncement came about in response to the annulment of a Kottayam vigilance court's ruling, which had discharged three North Malabar Gramin Bank employees from Thalayolaparambu. The case pertained to the alleged misappropriation of project funds amounting to ₹1,85,000 allocated to Thalayolaparambu gram panchayat.
VACB's Special Public Prosecutor, A. Rajesh, contended that the Prevention of Corruption Act does not impede the State police or specialized State bodies, such as VACB, from investigating corruption allegations involving Central government public servants. As a result, the judgement deemed the Vigilance court's decision legally unsustainable."