*Takes serious note of stance taken against DB’s judgment
JAMMU, Dec 5: Taking serious note of lack of action against IAS officer despite his clear-cut involvement in the major land scam of Jammu and Kashmir, the State Accountability Commission (SAC) has issued fresh notices to Chief Secretary, Commissioner/Secretary, General Administration Department and Inspector General of Police, State Vigilance Organization asking them to explain in unambiguous terms the reasons behind blatant violation of provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act.
Moreover, they have also been asked to justify their stance of questioning the powers of the Accountability Commission in response to earlier notice in this particular case as the same is contrary to the land-mark judgment of the Division Bench of State High Court whereby the SAC has been given sufficient powers to initiate suo-moto proceedings, sources told EXCELSIOR.
In the much-publicized Roshni land scam, the State Vigilance Organization (SVO) indicted nine persons including IAS officer Hirdesh Kumar Singh, the then District Collector Jammu (presently Commissioner/ Secretary to Government, Housing and Urban Development Department) in the case FIR No.15/2014 and accordingly in the status report filed before the Division Bench of State High Court in response to the directions issued in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) it was submitted that case against IAS officer was proved by the investigating agency.
Thereafter, the State Vigilance Organization approached the General Administration Department under Section 6 of Jammu and Kashmir Prevention of Corruption Act, 2006 in order to seek prosecution sanction from the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), Government of India, which is the competent authority in case of IAS officers.
However, the General Administration Department vide Order No.18-GAD (Vig) dated June 27, 2016 overruled the findings of the SVO and communicated to the relevant quarters including the Vigilance Organization that there was no criminal intent on the part of Hirdesh Kumar Singh to defraud the State exchequer. “At best, the officer can be held responsible for lack of supervision and control which can be a matter for departmental enquiry”, the GAD mentioned in the order.
The Jammu Wing of the State Accountability Commission took suo-moto cognizance of this stance on the part of General Administration Department as the same amounts to inaction, which comes under the domain of the SAC. Accordingly, the case was placed before the Full Commission comprising Chairperson Justice B A Khan and Members Justice J P Singh and Justice B A Kirmani and subsequently notices were issued to the Chief Secretary, Commissioner/ Secretary General Administration Department and IGP Vigilance Organization.
In the notices, it was mentioned by the SAC that when the Vigilance Organization has proved the involvement of IAS officer in the land scam the matter was required to be referred to the DoPT, Government of India under Section 6 of J&K Prevention of Corruption Act for obtaining prosecution sanction which has not been done till date, sources told EXCELSIOR.
“This amounts to inaction on your part as well as on the part of Chief Minister, who is Minister Incharge Vigilance Organization as well as General Administration Department”, the SAC mentioned in the notices, adding “you were bound to act on the investigation of premier investigating agency of the State so as to help in checking the menace of corruption”.
However, Additional Secretary in the General Administration Department, in his reply furnished to the Accountability Commission, avoided explaining the reasons behind inaction against the IAS officer and instead questioned the powers exercised by the SAC in this particular case, sources said, adding “the Additional Secretary mentioned in the reply that SAC cannot exercise suo-moto powers without any formal complaint”.
This stance of the Additional Secretary in General Administration Department on behalf of Chief Secretary was taken very seriously by the Full Commission as the same was contrary to the land-mark judgment of Division Bench of J&K High Court whereby powers have been conferred upon the SAC to initiate suo-moto proceedings, sources said.
“Now, the Accountability Commission has issued fresh notices to Chief Secretary, Commissioner/Secretary, General Administration Department and IGP Vigilance Organization asking them to explain in unambiguous terms the reasons behind blatant violation of provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act by not sending the findings of the Vigilance Organization in the Roshni land scam to the DoPT for prosecution sanction”, sources said.
Moreover, these officers have also been asked to justify their stance of questioning the powers of Accountability Commission as the same is contrary to the judgement of the Division Bench of J&K High Court whereby suo-moto powers were restored to the SAC, sources further said, adding by avoiding reply to the SAC on prosecution sanction of IAS officer the Chief Secretary and Commissioner/Secretary GAD have adopted contemptuous attitude towards the State High Court’s judgment.
“It was for the DoPT to decide whether to accord prosecution sanction or to decline the same after analyzing the findings of the State Vigilance Organization against the IAS officer and GAD had the only role to forward the documents to the DoPT. However, the GAD has exercised the powers which are not available to it”, sources pointed out.