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Govt not interested in empowering SVO, augmentation proposal gathering dust

No calendar drawn for speedy trial of corruption cases

Amendments proposed in SVC Act fail to get attention

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Jan 13: Notwithstanding the tall claims of the PDP-BJP Government about initiating various steps to eradicate the deep-rooted menace of corruption, a proposal for augmentation of the State Vigilance Organization-the premier investigating agency of Jammu and Kashmir, has been gathering dust in the General Administration Department during the past three years.
Even the amendments proposed in the Jammu and Kashmir State Vigilance Commission Act, 2011 have failed to receive the due attention of the Government.
A detailed proposal along with the financial implications regarding augmentation of State Vigilance Organization (SVO) was sent to the Government by the Director of Vigilance Organization vide communication No.Estt-01/15-3163-64 dated March 6, 2015, which was subsequently endorsed to the Chief Secretary by the State Vigilance Commission vide DO No.SVC/Gen/26/2015 dated March 13, 2015.
Taking the matter further, the Commission vide communication No.SVC/Gen/26/2015 dated March 31, 2015 addressed to the General Administration Department, recommended to consider the need for creation of necessary infrastructure at various levels which would be required to be put in place immediately after creation of the additional staff in accordance with the augmentation proposal.
It was mentioned in the communication by the Vigilance Commission that if carried to its logical conclusion, the proposal would go a long way in ensuring time bound and quality investigation by the Vigilance Organization.
“The Vigilance Organization is finding it extremely difficult to conduct timely and quality investigations owing to the resource constraints, both in respect of the manpower and the infrastructure”, read the communication of the State Vigilance Commission dated March 31, 2015.
“However, the augmentation proposal is still pending consideration with the Government”, the Vigilance Commission said in its annual report. This indicates that the tall claims of the Government about initiating requisite steps to eradicate the menace of corruption are confined to the statements only.
According to the report, a recommendation was also made for the Law Department to take up the matter with the High Court so that proper calendar for conducting trial of corruption cases on regular basis is devised for implementation by the Additional Special Courts and suitable accommodation for safe and secure custody of case records and case property is made available in each such court to the State Vigilance Organization.
“Though this would have helped in speedy disposal of under-trial corruption cases yet the recommendation has not been taken seriously till date”, the report further said.
On the basis of experience derived in its day to day proceedings, the State Vigilance Commission also felt the need to have the J&K State Vigilance Commission Act, 2011 amended so as to make certain matters clear and unambiguous, which would in turn enable the SVC to discharge the functions entrusted to it by the Act itself more effectively and lead to result oriented and expeditious disposal of inquiries.
Accordingly, a detailed communication No.SVC/Gen/ 23/2015 dated June 5, 2015 containing statement of facts justifying the proposed amendments along with draft Amendment Act was sent to the General Administration Department. However, despite lapse of nearly three years the proposal has not been taken seriously by the GAD thereby putting a question mark on the intentions of the Government about bringing improvement in the vigilance administration.
“The amendment has been proposed in Clause-D of Sub-Section-1 of Section 8 of the Act which would enable the Commission to play a proactive role in curbing the menace of corruption by empowering it to take cognizance of the acts of corruption, malpractices and abuse of official position which come to its notice without waiting for formal complaints”, the report said.
The Commission had also proposed insertion of Sub-Section-2 to Section-11 regarding the procedure to be adopted for compelling the attendance of persons to whom summons are issued by the Commission.
“This amendment was proposed because in the existing Act though powers under Code of Civil Procedure have been conferred upon the SVC but there is no specific provision in the Act which could be resorted to for ensuring timely submission of documents and reports in compliance to the directions of the Commission”, the annual report said, adding “non availability of any such provision results in delayed submission of documents and reports”.
According to the report, the Commission had also recommended insertion of Section 24 in the Act which would provide for penalty for contravention of directions issued by the Commission. “This amendment was proposed to ensure that the orders of the Commission at all levels in the administration are taken seriously so that the basic objective behind creation of the Commission is achieved and the efforts of the Government to provide clean and corruption free governance is supplemented”, the report added.

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