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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Who’s afraid of Accountability Commission?

Ministers, MLAs, IAS officers, others enjoying ‘stay’ orders in over 200 cases

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

JAMMU, Mar 7: Jammu and Kashmir’s lawmakers and bureaucrats have been claiming credit for reviving and empowering anti-corruption institutions despite the fact that they have got most of the integrity and accountability related matters against them stayed in High Court. Beneficiaries of the stay orders, that have already stayed unmoved in the last three to six years, include a number of sitting and former Ministers and legislators besides IAS and IPS officers.

Successive governments in the last 10 years have proudly created, revived and “strengthened” a host of anti-corruption watchdogs. These include J&K State Information Commission (SIC), J&K State Accountability Commission (SAC), J&K State Vigilance Organisation (SVO), J&K State Vigilance Commission (SVC) and a special designated court for CBI cases.

However, the government functionaries lost no time to get the matters against them stayed in J&K High Court. During the same period, Srinagar and Jammu wings of JKHC have stayed nearly 200 corruption related matters in favour of officials and politicians and these orders have been holding for three to six years. Government advocates have not bothered to even file a memo of urgency, let alone getting the status quo orders quashed.

In reply to an application filed under Right to Information Act, Registrar Judicial at Jammu wing has revealed the other day that different politicians, public servants and others had, in Jammu alone, challenged as many as 33 cases heard or decided by SAC. High Court has stayed admission, trial and recommendations in all the 33 cases, mostly on admission. It has also called as many as 40 cases from CBI’s designated court and got 20 of them stayed. Nearly 50 other cases, under investigation with SVO, tried or under trial at the anti-corruption court in Jammu, have also been stayed during the same period.

According to the reply, a copy of which is available with Early Times, Public Information Officer and Registrar Judicial at Jammu wing has revealed that 102 corruption related matters were currently pending disposal at the High Court in Jammu. These included 77 cases in which High Court had summoned records from the trial courts. Forty of similar cases had been summoned from CBI’s trial court and the proceedings/disposal had been stayed in 20 of these cases. The number of the cases pertaining to SAC and stayed by the High Court in Jammu has been mentioned as 33.

Notwithstanding the Supreme Court of India’s repeated directions and frequently pouring in guidelines from union Ministry of Law and Justice, calling for speedy disposal of corruption related matters, state government’s advocates have attached least priority to these cases. Consequently, stay orders issued by High Court have remained in force for three to six years. And, the reply says that these corruption related matters have been “listed on priority basis”. Nevertheless, a cursory look on the cause lists makes it clear that only “Transfer Matters” and cases of “Senior Citizens” have been underlined and typeset in bold in J&K High Court.

Congress party’s incumbent Minister for Public Enterprises, Peerzada Mohammad Sayeed, senior leader and former Deputy Chief Minister Pandit Mangat Ram Sharma, former Minister of Health, Suman Lata Bhagat, and her son Vikas Behal, former Minister and sitting MLA from Doda Abdul Majeed Wani are among the beneficiaries of these stay orders.

A number of senior officials who have got the SAC proceedings/ recommendations stayed from High Court in Jammu include senior IAS officers of the rank of Commissioner Secretary, Atul Duloo and Ashok Parmar, Secretary rank official of the Department of Law and Parliamentary Affairs, Farhat Qureshi, former Deputy Commissioner of Rajouri, Sheikh Rafiq Ahmad, former Secretary Animal Husbandry, Dr Deen Mohammad, who later functioned as Secretary in Mehmood-ur-Rehman-led State Finance Commission, former Director General of Department of Youth Services and Sports, Ravinder Gupta, former DIG Satvir Gupta, former Executive Engineer, Dharam Vir Kaul and former Cutodian Jammu, Abdul Majid Wani.

Stay order granted in favour of then Minister of Health, Suman Lata Bhagat, on 7-12-2006 has remained in place and uncontested in the last over 5 years. Her son, Vikas Behal, who is an Assistant Executive Engineer and functioned as the Minister’s PRO, got the SAC proceedings stayed on 3-02-2007. The order is holding even after 5 years. Stay orders granted to then DIG of Udhampur-Doda range, Satvir Gupta, on 26-12-2006 and another official, Ali Ahmad Shah, on 6-10-2006, have also been in force for the last over 5 years.

In the year 2007, former DC of Rajouri Sheikh Rafiq Ahmad, former Secretary of J&K Housing Board Mrs Farhat Qureshi, Inspector and then SHO of Sunadbani, Jamrodh Singh, caught on video while allegedly accepting bribe from a detainee, then Executive Engineer Dham Vir Kaul and former Deputy Chief Minister Mangat Ram Sharma (then Chairman KVIB) also got the SAC orders/proceedings against them stayed from High Court. Similar relief was granted in 14 other corruption related matters during the same year. All these orders have been intact for the last over four to five years. In its judgments, SAC had recommended outright dismissal of Jamrodh Singh and Kaul from service.

In 2008, SAC ordered recovery of a sum of over Rs 15 Lakh from then Secretary of Animal Husbandry, Dr Deen Mohammad, and Director Sheep Husbandry who had visited Australia for purchasing Merino sheep but returned empty handed because of a disease afflicting cattle and already in knowledge of the duo. SAC’s orders were stayed by High Court on 15-01-2008. Interestingly, Dr Deen, who had been previously inducted into technical quota of IAS, was granted a key position in State Finance Commission at the time of his retirement.

Then DG Sports, Ravinder Gupta and two senior IAS officers, who are both currently holding the rank of Commissioner-Secretary, namely Atal Duloo and Ashok Parmar, also got the SAC orders/ proceedings  against them stayed in 2008. Custodian Jammu Abdul Majid Wani got the relief on 30-03-2009.

Truncated Minister of Education and former J&K Pradesh Congress Committee chief, Peerzada Mohammad Sayeed, who had already got the SAC orders against him in the infamous Panchayat Ghar Electrification Scam stayed in Srinagar wing of High Court, is the latest among politicians who has got SAC’s suo moto proceedings against him (in unfair means scam of foster son Imam Souban Bhat) stayed in Jammu wing of High Court on 23-02-2012.


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