Twenty three public functionaries including five ex-Ministers have been facing proceedings before the Jammu and Kashmir State Accountability Commission while as 267 cases involving 724 public servants have been registered with the State Vigilance Organization (SVO) during the past four years thereby establishing that corrupt practices were still at an alarming level in different organs of the Government.
However, the Government has neither established first ever Law Commission nor infused new lease of life in State Information Commission despite numerous statements and announcements in this regard on various forums including State Legislature.
“Seventeen cases are pending disposal in the State Accountability Commission against public functionaries-MLAs and Ministers, which are at the state of preliminary scrutiny”, said Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who is also Minister Incharge General Administration Department while responding to the question of BJP MLA from Kathua, Rajeev Jasrotia in the Legislative Assembly today.
She, however, expressed inability to disclose the details in the light of the provisions of Jammu and Kashmir State Accountability Act, 2002.
“Besides, this, there are six complaints in which regular inquiry against some former Ministers is going on”, the Chief Minister said, adding “in one of these complaints regular inquiry against former Minister for Health and Medical Education, who was also Chairman of J&K Khadi and Village Industries Board, was pending before the Commission. However, after his demise the proceedings were closed while as case is still pending against other respondents who are Government servants”.
She further disclosed that five complaints are pending disposal against former Ministers namely Peerzada Mohammad Sayeed, the then Minister for Rural Development, Dr Manohar Lal Sharma, former Minister for Cooperative, Suman Lata Bhagat, former Minister for Health and Medical Education, A G Sofi, former Minister of State for Health and Medical Education and Choudhary Mohammad Ramzan.
“In respect of three of these complaints, notices have been issued to the respondents for filing their objections regarding recommencement/revival of the cases in view of the orders of the High Court while as in respect of remaining one complaint the exercise related to the evidence is going on”, Mehbooba Mufti said.
She further informed that 74 cases have been disposed-off by the Commission against MLAs/Ministers, which were at the stage of preliminary scrutiny and seven cases have been disposed-off after regular inquiry.
About the steps initiated to make appointment of new Chief Information Commissioner and two Information Commissi-oners, Chief Minister said, “these appointments, which are to be made by the Governor on the recommendations of a High Level Committee as envisaged under J&K Right to Information Act, 2009, are under active consideration of the Government”, adding “similarly, establishment of Law Commission is under active consideration of the Government”.
She, however, didn’t specify the time-frame for infusing new lease of life in Information Commission and establishment of Law Commission.
The announcement about Law Commission was made by four Law Ministers during the past several years on the floor of the State Legislature but the same has yet not been translated into reality till date thereby establishment that in J&K ‘active consideration’ means delaying or dumping the matter for unspecified period.
It is worthwhile to mention here that announcement regarding establishment of Law Commission of J&K was first made in the Legislative Assembly during the Budget Session held in March 2013 by the then Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs. This was reiterated by the then Law Minister Mir Saifullah in the 4th meeting of the Advisory Council of the National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms at Union Capital on June 24, 2013.
During the Budget Session of 2014, it was announced by the then Government that establishment of Law Commission was under ‘active consideration’ and very shortly the State would get first ever Law Commission. Even during last Budget Session held at Srinagar in the month of June last year, it was announced that Government was contemplating to establish Law Commission and same stereotype reply was furnished by the Chief Minister in the Assembly.
The non-serious approach of the Government towards establishment of Law Commission is notwithstanding the fact that this would not only help in repealing of outdated laws but also help the State in carrying out necessary amendments in various laws in order to make them relevant in the context of present day needs and requirements.
As far as State Information Commission is concerned, the Government was aware of the fact that first ever CIC and ICs would complete their tenure one after another within a span of one year but no timely step was initiated to prevent this vital Commission, commonly known as transparency watchdog, to become completely defunct.
According to the official figures, 108 cases (73 appeals and 35 complaints) are pending disposal before the State Information Commission till date and unless new Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners are appointed these cases will continue to gather dust in the office of Information Commission.
About the status of cases registered in the State Vigilance Organization, the Chief Minister informed the House that 267 cases were registered against 724 Government servants including Gazetted Officers, ex-Ministers and Legislators during past four years.
Of these, 106 cases involving 247 Government servants were sent to the Government for accord of sanction for prosecution during last four years. Against all the cases referred to it, the Government accorded prosecution sanction in 151 cases involving 220 Government servants.
Similarly, State Vigilance Organization presented challan in 92 cases involving 218 Government servants before the anti-corruption courts and courts convicted 37 corrupt Government servants while deciding 30 corruption cases, the Chief Minister informed the Legislative Assembly