VACB can Investigate Cases against Central Employees

VACB can investigate into corruption cases

The Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) of Kerala State, has authority to investigate offences involving corruption that take place within the State, committed by a Central Government employee or a State Government employee, says the High Court of Kerala (HCK) in State of Kerala v Navaneeth Krishnan

VACB is a specially constituted body to investigate into the bribery, corruption and misconduct mainly under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (PC Act).

No investigation agency is prescribed in PC Act

The PC Act or the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 (DSPE Act) does not prevent the State police or a Special Agency of the State like VACB of Kerala from investigating the cases relating to corruption of the Central Government employees.

Similarly, the Section 17 of the PC Act does not exclude or prevents the State Police or a Special Agency of the State from registering a crime or investigating cases relating to bribery, corruption, and misconduct against Central Government employees.

PC Act does not prescribe any investigation procedure

The PC Act prescribes no separate procedure for conducting investigation. Therefore, the offences under the statute could be investigated by the State agency or the Central agency or any police agency. But the police officer shall be of the rank specified in the PCA.

Facts of this case

In this case, the VACB had registered a crime against the Village Extension Officer and Implementing officer of a Project, Thalayolaparamba (1st accused), and three officials of the North Malabar Gramin Bank, Thalayolaparamba Branch (accused no. 2-4).

The allegation against the accused persons was that they had conspired together to cheat the Grama Panchayat and the beneficiaries of the intended Project. An amount of Rs. 1,85,000/- was allegedly misappropriated by the accused persons in furtherance of the conspiracy.

Accused alleged that VACB cannot register crime

The accused-bank employees filed separate petitions before the Enquiry Commissioner & Special Judge, Kottayam, averring that the VACB, Kottayam had no authority or jurisdiction to register the crime and conduct the investigation in as much as they are Central Government employees. This contention was accepted and the accused persons were discharged by the Special Judge. Therefore, the State filed this revision petition before the HCK.

State filed revision against VACB order

Before the HCK, the counsel for the accused-respondents argued that Gramin Banks are governed by the policies of the Central Government, and hence, the CBI, Central Vigilance Commission or such other Central Government Authority alone would have the authority and jurisdiction to investigate the offences allegedly committed by them under the PC Act.

The HCK found that the Section 156 of CrPC stipulates the powers of police officers to investigate cognizable offences, and Section 4 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which deals with the trial of offences under the IPC and other law.

CrPC applicable for investigation if not inconsistent with PC Act

The HCK observes that the CrPC is the parent statute which provides for investigation, inquiry into and trial of cases, and added that the existence of a special law by itself cannot be taken to exclude the operation of CrPC, unless the special law expressly or impliedly provides a separate provision for investigation.

Therefore, a conjoint reading of Section 4(2) and Section 156 CrPC, the HCK discerned that the provisions of CrPC. shall be applied so long as they are not inconsistent with the provisions of the PC Act which is a Special Act.

Corruption of central employees goes to CBI due to convenience

It is only for convenience and to avoid duplication of work, the Central Bureau of Investigation – an agency under the Special Police Establishment – is entrusted with the task of investigation of the cases of corruption and bribery against the employees of Central Government and its undertakings. Similarly, the VACB – a specialised investigating agency of the Kerala State – is entrusted with the task of investigation of the cases of corruption and bribery against the employees of State Government and its undertakings.

VACB can investigate bribery of central employee

In short, the HCK declared that the VACB, which is a wing of the Kerala State Police, could investigate the offences under the PC Act, provided that would be done by a police officer of the rank specified in Section 17 of the Act.


  1. State of Kerala v Navaneeth Krishnan
  2. The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988