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Government appoints anti-graft officials in multi-state cooperatives

NEW DELHI: 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 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 the Krishak Bharti Cooperative Ltd (KRIBHCO), Delhi, under the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers.

Jha's appointment as CVO, first in any multi-state cooperative, has been approved by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh-led Appointments Committee of Cabinet. An order in this regard has also been issued.

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

The decision to bring cooperatives 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 has opined that the members, office bearers and employees of the multi-state cooperative societies would fall within the purview of Section 2(c) of the Prevention of Corruption Act and that the CVC is duly 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 Cooperative Ltd (IFFCO), National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (NAFED) and KRIBHCO among others were enjoying immunity from the CVC scanner before this order.

Both the DoPT and the CVC are considering ways to strengthen vigilance mechanism in the multi-cooperative societies to check any wrong-doing.

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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