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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

For ‘corrupt’ politicians, officials in J&K: Delay means victory, stay means victory

CBI cases pending for final hearing since 2003, SAC cases since 2006

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

JAMMU, Mar 10: Notwithstanding the Supreme Court of India’s but also the Union government’s and the state government’s stress on speedy disposal of all corruption related matters, scores of such cases are “under investigation” since decades and dozens more pending for admission or final hearing at different courts of law in Jammu & Kashmir.

State Vigilance Organisation (SVO) spent over two decades to complete its investigation into a corruption related matter against a politician. The politician was a Cabinet Minister in 1984 when he, according to the SVO findings, misused his official position and indulged in practice of corruption. In Omar Abdullah’s government since 2009, he is continuing as a Minister in the Cabinet. SVO failed to get sanction of his prosecution on a bizarre ground: That it was an ‘old case’ in which many of the witnesses had expired. One more reason stands recorded on the file: This matter has been repeatedly surfacing in all sessions of Legislature and thus causing embarrassment to the government.

Governments of Messers Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Governor N N Vohra conveniently chose to ignore the illegal deputation of the politician’s green hand son on the post of a Director. Mr Omar Abdullah’s government directed SVO to close the 26-year-old matter of corruption for good. Helplessly, the SVO filed ‘Ikhtitami’ in an anti-corruption court in Jammu.

Same politician’s Munsiff son has been spared by J&K High Court for deputation on a post of civil administration in the state government despite the fact that as many as 39 Munsiff courts in J&K had no judges. All the news stories and RTI applications in this matter have been ignored by the Executive as well as the Judiciary.

At least two more Ministers in the cabinet have corruption related matters against them in J&K Accountability Commission (SAC). Fresh complaints have been filed against one of them and SAC has taken a suo moto cognizance against another. Previously, these Ministers had got the SAC judgments against them strayed. This time around, they have got the preliminary inquiries stalled. With this, all the complaints against Ministers and equivalent status holders---except the one initiated suo moto against the Finance Minister---have been stayed. No one knows for how long.

For a multitude of reasons, SVO’s pace of investigation has been unimpressive. Rate of conviction, as compared to CBI at the national level, has been dismal. Over 200 preliminary inquiries and FIRs have failed to reach the stage of submission of challan in the last 10 years.

SAC has remained either fully defunct or without necessary staff and infrastructure in all 10 years since it was constituted in 2002. As many as 33 of its judgments/ proceedings have been stayed by the High Court in Jammu. Numbers are not readily available but believed to be more in Srinagar wing. Even the CBI’s performance in J&K, in terms of investigation as well as rate of conviction, has been no match to the organisation’s report card at the national level.

The reply, provided to an RTI application by Registrar Judicial at Jammu Wing of J&K High Court earlier this week, makes it clear that 40 of CBI’s cases, mostly corruption related matters, were pending in Jammu wing alone. These include 20 cases in which trial court proceedings have been stayed or records have been summoned by the High Court in Jammu. Of these, as many as 11 cases have been pending “FOR FINAL HEARING”. The oldest one, titled Bansi Lal Zutshi v/s State through CBI, has been instituted on 4-8-2003. Final hearing has not happened in the last 9 years.

One each of these cases belongs to 2004, 2006 and 2007. Two have been instituted in 2008, one in 2009, two in 2010 and two in 2011. Eight of the 20 stayed cases of CBI are pending “FOR ADMISSION”. One each stands instituted in 2007 and 2008, two in 2010, three in 2011 and one in 2012. One more case of 2012 has been pending “FOR ORDERS”.

Of the 33 corruption related matters of SAC, stayed by Jammu wing of High Court, as many as 22 have been pending “FOR FINAL HEARING”. The oldest one stands registered against then Minister of State for Health, Suman Lata Bhagat. It was instituted on 7-12-2006 and stayed on the same day. Then Chairman of SAC had in fact taken suo moto action during hearing of an official’s complaint against then Commissioner-Secretary Health, Mrs Sonali Kumar, and initiated proceedings against the Minister (Suma Lata) and MoS (Abdul Gaffar Sofi) in the infamous AMT admission scam.

Three of these cases, which are still ‘pending for final hearing’, had been instituted in 2006, thirteen in 2007, five in 2008 and one in 2009. Remaining 11 of SAC’s corruption related matters, stayed by High Court in Jammu, have been pending “FOR ADMISSION”. Seven of these had been instituted in 2007 and three in 2008. The last one, titled Peerzada Mohammad Sayeed v/s State Accountability Commission and others, has been instituted on 23-02-2012.


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