The Kerala government is yet to appoint a director for the Vigilance and Ant-Corruption Bureau (VACB) despite repeated criticism by the High Court and the opposition clamouring for it.
The high-profile post for the anti-corruption wing of the state police has been kept vacant since June 30, after Loknath Behera, who was holding the post, returned to the post of State Police Chief. Since then, Behera has been holding the additional charge of VACB director.
On August 21, the High Court questioned the government about why it had not appointed a VACB director.
Reiterating its statement on Monday, the HC flayed the government for not appointing a vigilance director despite having 12 DGPs. “What is the need to have 12 DGP posts in the state? Is it allowed as per Centre rules? Why has the charge of VACB director not been handed over to anyone?” the court asked.
On Sunday, opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala lashed out against the Chief Minister, saying that the omission was intentional so as to sabotage a few cases.
Last week, the Left Democratic Front government promoted four officers, including the first woman IPS officer of the state R Sreelekha, to the post of a DGP. The government, however, didn’t make any announcement regarding the appointment of the new VACB director. Currently, the VACB is also considering a petition by Chennithala on the alleged land encroachment by Transport Minister Thomas Chandy.
Lashing out against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Chennithala said that “the Chief Minister is playing a tactical game by not appointing a permanent head for VACB as he wishes to roll up a few vigilance cases.”
Senior IPS officer Jacob Thomas was the director of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau, when he was asked to go on leave on March 31 by the government.
On June 19, when he returned to service, he was appointed as the Director of the Institute of Management in Government (IMG), which isn’t the most favourable of posts among officers.
On May 8, Loknath Behera took charge as the VACB director. He was displaced when TP Senkumar was reinstated as the State Police Chief. However, after Senkumar’s retirement, Behera returned as the State Police Chief, but was also holding the additional charge as VACB director.
When TNM asked Home Secretary Subrata Biswas why the appointment had not been made yet, he said that this is a question that should be posed to the Chief Minister. “That will be decided at the highest level,” he added.