Govt officials taking up a private job soon after retirement is ‘serious misconduct’: CVC

New Delhi/ Vivek Shukla: "It has been observed that on some occasions, immediately after their retirement from government organisations, retired officials are taking up full-time job/contractual assignments in private sector organisations," the CVC on Thursday said in an order issued to secretaries of all central government departments and chiefs of public sector banks among others.

Quite often, the cooling-off period, as prescribed under the rules of organisations concerned, is not observed before taking up such offers, the apex body to address governmental corruption said. "Post-retirement acceptance of the offer by retired government officials without observing cooling-off period constitutes a serious misconduct on their part," CVC said.

It is pertinent to note here that Indian Oil's former CMD Sanjeev Singh had superannuated from Indian Oil on June 30, 2020, and had joined Reliance Industries’ services (which is considered the backbone of RIL’s oil-to-chemicals business) in less than 2 months time. He did not serve the cooling-off period. It can easily be imagined the kind of information he would have had about the future plans of the Indian Oil being CMD himself.

In a similar case, Petronet LNG Ltd Managing Director and CEO Prabhat Singh had superannuated in September 2020 and within 60 days he had joined India Gas Solutions. The company is a joint venture between Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) and British Petroleum (BP). He also did not serve the prescribed cooling-off period.

Related Reads:

2 months after retirement, Indian Oil ex-CMD Sanjeev Singh joins RIL without ‘cooling off’

Petronet LNG’s ex-MD & CEO Prabhat Singh joins RIL-BP’s IGS without ‘cooling off’

The order said that all government organisations may, therefore, formulate appropriate rules and guidelines for their employees to ensure that post-retirement, the cooling-off period is mandatorily observed by them before accepting any offer from private sector entities.

The rules and guidelines should incorporate the procedure for seeking or obtaining permission before accepting offers from private sector entities during the cooling-off period if not in existence, it said.

The applicable service or conduct rules should also be revised and modified to ensure that, if required, appropriate action can also be initiated in case of violation of such rules by retired employees, the commission said.

In this order, the CVC has outlined a procedure for government organisations for obtaining vigilance clearance for retired-babus before employing them.

"There is no defined procedure for seeking vigilance inputs before engaging retired government officials from the organisations where such retired officials were employed on a full-time basis, prior to their retirement," it said.

The commission has observed that the absence of a uniform defined procedure for obtaining vigilance clearance, before engaging retired officials by government organisations, sometimes leads to a situation where officials with tainted past or having cases pending against them are engaged by the government organisations, the order said.

"Such a situation not only leads to unnecessary complaints/allegations of favouritism but is also against the tenets of fairness and probity which is the basic principle governing the functioning of government organisations," it said.

"In respect of retired officers belonging to all India services, Group A officers of central government or their equivalent in other organisations owned or controlled by the central government, before offering employment to them on contractual/consultancy basis, vigilance clearance from the employer organisation, from which the government officials had retired, should be necessarily obtained," the CVC said.

In case a retired officer served in more than one organisation, the vigilance clearance should be obtained from all organisations where the retired officer had served during a period of 10 years prior to his retirement, it said mentioning the procedure.

The CVC said in the case, no reply is received from the erstwhile employer(s) within 15 days of sending a communication by speed post to them, a reminder may be sent to them for expediting vigilance clearance.

However, in case no reply is received from the erstwhile employer within 21 days of sending initial communication to them, it may be considered as 'deemed vigilance clearance for the person concerned, the commission said.

"Later on, if it is found that the ex-employee was involved in any vigilance related matter or was not clear from vigilance point of view, the erstwhile employer organisation would be responsible for all consequential actions," it said.

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"The retired government officer is to be considered for post-retirement engagement only on receipt of vigilance clearance/vigilance inputs," the CVC said.

The procedure for engaging retired government officers should be transparent with equal opportunity to all those who are willing to offer their services, it said.

The post to be filled up on a contractual or consultancy basis should at least be advertised on the website of the organisation concerned at an appropriate place and should be available in the public domain, the commission's order said.

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