*IAS officers among accused enjoying plum postings
JAMMU, Jan 29: In a blatant violation of Supreme Court’s directions, the General Administration Department (GAD) of J&K is sitting over 34 cases forwarded by the State Vigilance Organization, Crime Branch and Central Bureau of Investigation during the last two years seeking sanction to prosecute 93 Government servants including two senior Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers under Prevention of Corruption Act.
Moreover, several accused officers have been allowed to work on plum postings despite explicit orders from the Division Bench of State High Court that those Government servants, who are facing serious allegations of corruption, shall not be given the public dealing posts.
As the executive’s unwillingness was creating impediments in taking corruption related cases to the logical conclusion, the Supreme Court in Vineet Narain Versus Union of India case decided in the year 1998 fixed time-frame of three months for the competent authority to take decision on sanction for prosecution.
While reiterating these directions in Subramanian Swamy Versus Dr Manmohan Singh case in 2012, the Apex Court of the country explicitly stated that competent authority shall mandatorily decide within three months whether or not to grant sanction for prosecution under Prevention of Corruption Act.
The Supreme Court even made it clear that accused shall not be given opportunity of hearing at the stage of considering prosecution sanction. Moreover, it was unequivocally mentioned in the landmark judgment that in case no decision is taken within a period of three months sanction shall be deemed to have been granted to the proposal for prosecution and prosecution agency can proceed to file the charge-sheet in the court to commence prosecution within 15 days of the expiry of the time limit.
However, these directions of the Supreme Court are being violated with impunity by all the concerned agencies particularly the General Administration Department on one pretext or the other.
This can be gauged from the document placed in the Legislative Assembly by none else than the Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti, who is also Minister Incharge General Administration Department (GAD).
During 2015-16 and 2016-17, State Vigilance Organization (SVO), Crime Branch and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) forwarded a total of 34 cases to the General Administration Department seeking sanction to prosecute 93 Government servants including two Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers presently holding key positions in J&K and in Union Government.
However, not even one case has been cleared by the GAD till date and different reasons have been shown in the official records to justify the delay in deciding prosecution sanction. Due to delay in accord of prosecution sanction, the fate of these 34 cases, some of which were registered 8 to 10 years back by these investigating agencies, is hanging in balance and accused officers and officials have remained unpunished.
These officers and officials are facing the allegations of misappropriation of funds, conferment of illegal ownership rights under Roshni Scheme, misuse of official position, possessing disproportionate assets, demanding and accepting illegal gratification and making illegal appointments by charging huge money from the beneficiaries.
As per the document of the General Administration Depart-ment, Ghulam Nabi Balwan, the then ACD Kishtwar and presently Deputy Commissioner Kishtwar was booked in the year 2012 by the State Vigilance Organization for misappropriation of funds. However, till date the fate of this case is hanging in balance and now the GAD says that requisite case file is awaited from the Department of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj.
Similarly, Joginder Singh, the then Assistant Director Rationing Circle-I was booked by the Crime Branch Jammu for misappropriation of funds in the year 2007 but investigating agency is awaiting prosecution sanction from GAD, which says some documents are awaited from the Home Department.
Likewise, the GAD is sitting over the case regarding involvement of two IAS officers—Sudhanshu Pandey and Hirdesh Kumar Singh in the much publicized Roshni land scam on the pretext that some clarifications have been sought from the State Vigilance Organization.
According to the document, 18 officials including eight Executive Engineers namely Mohammad Amin Shah, Ghulam Mohammad Dar, Abdul Samad Waza, Ghulam Nabi, Ghulam Qadir Bhat, Mohammad Amin Rather and Ghulam Hassan Ganaie were booked in the year 2010 for regularization of 2085 daily rated workers in various PHE divisions of Kashmir valley as helpers.
However, despite lapse of six years the fate of the case is hanging in balance and GAD says, “the case is under submission after receiving the requisite information from the Vigilance Organization”.
“Under submission”, “response awaited from departments”, “under examination” and “under process” are the words reflected in rest of the cases whereby sanction has been sought to prosecute the accused officers and officials.
About the tainted officers enjoying plum postings, the Chief Minister said, “there is no categorization of Government posts as prime posts or otherwise and postings are ordered in the interest of administration based on merit and suitability”.
However, there are numerous instances which clearly show that officers facing different charges are enjoying prize positions despite the fact that the then Chief Justice of J&K High Court Justice M M Kumar in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) highlighting menace of corruption had explicitly told the State Government that persons facing serious allegations of corruption shall not be given public dealing postings.
Though the Government says that a Screening Committee headed by Chief Secretary has been authorized to examine the cases related to premature retirements under Article 226(2) of the J&K Civil Services Regulations, 1956 yet the data about premature retirements clearly indicates that only junior level employees are generally targeted while as senior officers are not being touched by this Screening Committee.
“There are numerous Government servants of doubtful integrity in the administration but no action has so far been taken against them for obvious reasons”, sources said.