*Soft-paddling approach even in numerous verifications
JAMMU, Mar 4: Though it has been entrusted with the task of fighting the deep-rooted menace of corruption tooth and nail yet the State Vigilance Organization (SVO) has failed to complete investigation in numerous FIRs lodged under Prevention of Corruption Act against influential officers. The most astonishing aspect is that these Government servants despite facing serious allegations of corruption, misuse of official positions and embezzlements have been given prize postings by none else than the Government.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that in 2014 the Vigilance Organization Jammu had registered FIR No.18 against the then Vice-Chairman of Jammu Development Authority (JDA) for illegal allotment of plot at Trikuta Nagar Jammu. Accordingly, the investigation was set into motion but despite lapse of more than two years the FIR has not been taken to logical conclusion by the Vigilance Organization.
“It seems that State Vigilance Organization has come under pressure from certain quarters to delay the investigation in this FIR as the accused officer is said to be an influential person having links with several politicians”, sources said, adding “the dilly-dallying approach in completion of investigation in this FIR clearly establishes that Vigilance Organization doesn’t want to touch big sharks”.
Similarly, FIR No.15 was lodged way back in 2011 by Vigilance Organization Jammu against a senior engineer for various irregularities in the construction of a bridge in Doda district but the fate of the same is still hanging in balance because of engineer’s links in the corridors of power, sources said while disclosing that construction work of this particular bridge was allotted without floating tenders and even financial irregularities were conducted by the accused Government servant.
Even Verification No.22/2013 pertaining to disproportionate assets and Verification No.66/2016 pertaining to procurement of substandard items in connivance with the SICOP vendors were initiated against this particular Government servant but the same have also not been pursued vigorously, sources said, adding “the dilly-dallying approach is sending a loud and clear message that Vigilance Organization doesn’t want to punish this influential officer also”.
They further informed that in 2015 FIR No.10 was registered by Vigilance Organization Kashmir against seven officers of Science and Technology Department, Jammu and Kashmir Energy Development Agency (JKEDA) and Power Devel-opment Department in the solar lights scam. However, none of the involved officer has been punished till date mainly because of dilly-dallying approach in completion of investigation by the Vigilance Organization.
“Due to inordinate delay in completion of investigation some of the accused officers have even attained superannuation from the Government service and others are still holding the prize postings because of having close links with certain politicians, who are exerting pressure on the State Vigilance Organization for not pursuing this particular FIR”, sources disclosed.
Similarly, FIR No.12 was lodged by Vigilance Organization Kashmir in 2016 against three Government servants and two private firms—one of Gujarat and another of Anantnag for procurement of imported timber in violation of norms and rules that too on exorbitant rates. Their act had caused loss of Rs 95,51,479 to the State exchequer.
However, no serious effort has been made to take the FIR to the logical conclusion despite the fact that accused Government servants had obtained pecuniary benefits by abusing their official position, sources said.
“There are numerous such FIRs whose fate is hanging in balance only because influential officers and officials are involved in the same”, sources regretted, adding “it is a matter of serious concern that State Vigilance Organization which has been entrusted with the task of fighting the deep-rooted menace of corruption tooth and nail is not ready to shun dilly-dallying approach in taking the FIRs to the logical conclusion”.
They further said, “slackness in completion of FIRs lodged against senior officers is sending a message that Vigilance Organization is meant only for taking action against lower level officials and doesn’t want to touch big sharks”, adding “it is the high time for the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to pass clear instructions to the State Vigilance Organization to promptly complete the investigation in all the FIRs particularly those which were registered several years back so as to send a message that she wants to cleanse the administration of corrupt officers and officials”.
It is pertinent to mention here that Governor has also stressed the need for making systematic efforts to clear all pending cases without any fear or favour.