New Delhi: The anti-graft watchdog Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) had an eventful year as it faced ouster of its former chief P J Thomas and raced against time to complete probe in key corruption cases including the multi-crore Commonwealth Games scam.

Besides, the fear of encroachment of its powers due to Lokpal loomed large over the CVC as it made several representations before the Parliamentary panel to maintain its effectiveness, proper division of work and due autonomy.

The panel worked without its chief for about four months after Thomas' appointment was quashed by the Supreme Court on March 3 citing pending corruption charges against him. Former Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar was named as its new head in July and he directed officials to speed up various corruption related inquiries and other works.

It initiated key IT-based initiatives and promoted computerisation of official works in government departments to ensure transparency. The Commission received over 11,000 complaints of financial irregularities and made recoveries of over Rs 75 crore after inspecting works, including public procurement, carried out by different organisations.

The CVC is looking into alleged irregularities in the execution of 71 Commonwealth Games-related projects worth over Rs 3,500 crore including 23 by to Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, 14 by Organising Committee and nine by Delhi Development Authority and six by CPWD among others.

Besides, four works carried out by the government of National Capital Territory of Delhi, three each by Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, and two projects done by New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) are also being investigated by the CVC.

The CVC has also referred five cases of alleged criminal conspiracy and corruption by government officials to CBI for further probe. Besides, the Commission has closed investigations in two other cases related to the CW Games.

The CVC met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and appeared before the Parliamentary Standing Committee to make its point of view over the Lokpal.

In a media interview in September, Kumar for the first time favoured inclusion of corporates, higher bureaucracy and political executives under the purview of the proposed anti-corruption bill to check graft effectively. He also sought a provision, as in UK bribery law, where a bribe giver is punished.

At present CVC has no power to check graft in private firms and it refers cases of criminal conspiracy and corruption by government officials and others to the CBI.

The Commission also wrote to the government to fill its vacant posts especially in the Chief Technical Examination (CTE) wing, entrusted with the examination of construction and civil works including procurement. At present, about 10 percent posts of total strength of 285 are lying vacant.

The probity watchdog is also in the process of forming a tougher law to confiscate 'benami' properties in order to deter people from spending or investing money acquired through corrupt means and prepared a draft National Anti-Corruption Policy.

The policy, which was aimed at checking movement of black-money and other issues adding to corruption and suggests ways to deal with it, is pending administrative approval within the Commission.

(Agencies)