The question of multiple accommodation allotted by the Estates Department to 62 legislators who include former and sitting Ministers, MLCs/MLAs, has been making rounds in the media and in administrative circles of the Government.
Actually, it was the report of the CAG tabled in the Legislative Assembly in 2016 that the question came up and people got the wind if insatiable lust of our law makers for money to be grabbed through right or wrong ways. People ask whether this is the type of respect these elected members are showing to the oath of allegiance which political parties and individuals have taken for being honest citizens of India. The more distressing fact is that the report was tabled in the legislature and more than a year has passed the legislators are not even opening their mouth because they know the case involves their former or maybe present colleagues.
The Accountability Commission, conscientious of its duty, took up suo moto the case of multiple accommodations given to some of the legislators and ministers and issued a notice to the Estates Department to submit a status report. The Estates Department has been dilly-dallying and revealing things by tickles. In a recent hearing, the Accountability Commission again observed that the ED was not forthcoming as it expected. Some new information is getting uncovered. For example, it has been revealed that some former Ministers and MLAs or sitting ministers and MLAs despite having their private accommodation, have given these on rent and have got state quarters and bungalows allotted to them. The Accountability Commission had sought specific information from the ED but it has expressed regret that the ED is not coming up with clear-cut reply and is trying to bungle the matter. The Accountability Commission has expressed its deep regrets that the Estates Department is deliberately trying to give vague reply to its questions and that shows it has developed nexus with senior echelons of the bureaucracy. On being asked by the Court to submit a status report, the Counsel for the Government said that the Government had constituted a committee which had been asked to prepare the data in the light of what the Centre wants to do in Kashmir would be done. The infuriated court said that it had been hearing that rhetoric for a long time and what the new pattern of these committees would be is not known.
The issue is simple. In all probability, a nexus exists between the functionaries of State Government, the high powered committee for examining the allotments, and the functionaries of the Estates Department. This nexus needs to be broken and the MLAs/ex-ministers who have indicated that they are holding two quarters should be asked to pay the rent of both the quarters immediately. Why should they unnecessarily become a burden on the public exchequer? Nepotism and favouritism are the negative forces that do not allow the Government to be just and equitable. The Estates Department should be purged of malevolent elements and honest functionaries should replace them. The Accountability Commission has raised a cogent question. It has asked the counsel for the ED whether there are allotment rules or not. If there are rules, why were not those followed and if there are not how come it allots quarters to the blue eyed persons.