DB directs Govt to take decision within one month, present challans

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Aug 28: Observing that State Government and other concerned authorities were dragging feet on granting sanction to prosecute IAS/IFS/KAS and other officers, the Division Bench of the State High Court comprising Chief Justice M M Kumar and Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar today directed Union of India, General Manager, Food Corporation of India and Managing Directors of SIDCO and SICOP to disclose the reasons behind inordinate delay in according sanction for prosecution of officers against whom corruption, misappropriation and other charges have been established by the State Vigilance Organization.
The DB also directed the Secretary Legislative Assembly to explain why the sanction for prosecution in respect of former Minister, Jagjivan Lal, has not been accorded since September 2007 when the Vigilance Organization referred the case to Assembly Secretariat in view of former Minister having possessed Disproportionate Assets.
About the officers against whom prosecution sanction was not required in view of their superannuation from the Government services including former Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Mehboob Iqbal, the DB issued directions for filing of challan within two weeks and in respect of serving officers the Government was asked to take decision on prosecution sanction applications within a period of one month from today. In respect of serving IAS officer Baseer Ahmad Khan, who is presently Deputy Commissioner Srinagar, the State Government has been directed to forward papers to the Union Government within two weeks to obtain necessary directions in his case.
As soon as the PIL seeking prosecution sanction against IAS/IFS/KAS and other officers came up for hearing before the Division Bench, Advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmad, the counsel for the petitioner, submitted, “despite clear directions of the Supreme Court in the Subramanian Swamy Versus Manmohan Singh and Another case that proposals for prosecution sanction must be decided within a period of three month and beyond that sanction will be deemed to have been granted, the State Government is sleeping over the prosecution sanctions during the past several years”, adding “the status reports filed by the General Administration Department and Vigilance Commissioner clearly indicate that State Government has scant regard for the directions of the Apex Court”.
Though Senior Additional Advocate General Gagan Basotra tried to convince the Division Bench by quoting some paragraphs of the Supreme Court’s judgment in Subramanian Swamy Versus Manmohan Singh case yet he could not justify the inordinate delay in granting prosecution sanction.
For how many years the State will remain sleeping over the prosecution sanctions? asked Chief Justice, M M Kumar, adding “the State is dragging feet without any reason. Why there is favoritism? Why challans have not been filed?
“When you catch a clerk you resort to much publicity in the media. Why big sharks are being left out”? asked Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar.
Keeping in view the importance of the PIL, the Division Bench decided to seek response from the Senior Additional Advocate General on each and every FIR mentioned in the status reports filed separately by General Administration Department and Vigilance Commissioner.
Mr Basotra submitted that only 12 cases were presently under examination of the Government (General Administration Department) while as other cases have been referred to the competent authorities in SIDCO, SICOP, FCI and Union Ministry of Environment and Forest under law. He, however, fairly admitted that there was no reason for these authorities to sit over the prosecution sanctions for such a long period.
About the former Minister Jagjivan Lal, Mr Basotra stated that Assembly Secretariat has to take decision on the same and Government has no role in the same in view of clear legal provisions vis-à-vis sitting or former legislators.
“These are only excuses. In such a situation what is the use of obtaining report from the Vigilance Organization. You cannot over-rule the investigation of the Vigilance Organization”, the DB said, adding “it is unfortunate that 90 per cent cases are kept under the carpet. If the Government has to keep the administration clean it has to accord prosecution sanction especially when Vigilance Organization has established the charges against the officers as the corruption is a monster before everybody”.
Pointing towards the status of the case involving KAS officer Babu Ram, the then CDPO Social Welfare Department, who was booked by the Vigilance for making illegal appointments, the DB said, “instead of sanctioning or declining prosecution, representation of the officer has been obtained despite the clear directions of the Supreme Court that grant or refusal of sanction is not a quasi-judicial function and the person for whose prosecution sanction is sought is not required to be heard by the competent authority before it takes a decision in the matter”.
After hearing Advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmad for the PIL filed by two social activists namely Sheikh Mohd Shafi, son of Sheikh Abdul Rehman, former Member Parliament and Prof S K Bhalla, and Senior AAG Gagan Basotra and ASGI K K Pangotra for the respondents and obtaining response of Mr Basotra on each and every case mentioned in the status reports of GAD and Vigilance Commissioner, the Division Bench impleaded Food Corporation of India through its General Manager, Regional Office, Jammu, SIDCO and SICOP through their Managing Directors, Union of India through Secretary, Department of Environment and Forest, Government of India and Secretary Legislative Assembly as party respondents to the petition.
Accordingly, these respondents were directed to disclose the reasons why sanction for prosecution in case of Ghulam Rasool Sofi, the then Ancillary Labour, FCI and Mohammad Maqbool Dar, the then Manager SIDCO has not been accorded especially when these two are trap cases. Likewise, the SICOP was directed to disclose the reasons for keeping the matter pending since 2008 in respect of Bashir Ahmad Wani, ACD Kupwara, P K Sethi, then Divisional Manager, SICOP Kashmir etc accused in FIR No.04/2008. Similarly, Secretary Legislative Assembly was directed to file an explanation about why sanction for prosecution in respect of Jagjivan Lal, former Minister has not been accorded.
As Mr Basotra stated that in case FIR No.21/2006 registered in respect of Mohinder Singh, then Director Local Bodies, Jammu, A K Raina, then Director Local Bodies, Jammu, Kartar Singh, then Administrator NAC Katra and Jagdish Raj Sharma, then Administrator NAC Katra the sanction was not required in view of their superannuation, the DB directed that the challan in respect of these retired officers shall be presented at the earliest but not later than two weeks. In respect of Ravi Kumar Sharma, then Executive Officer, Municipal Committee, Katra, whose prosecution sanction has already been cleared by the Housing and Urban Development Department, the DB directed that the challan shall be presented within two weeks.
In respect of Mehboob Iqbal, the then Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, who has superannuated from the service, the State was directed to present the challan within two weeks. As far as IAS officer Baseer Ahmad Khan, who is currently Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar, the State was directed to forward the papers to the Union Government, which has not been done so far. The needful should be done within two weeks, the DB ordered.
With regard to officers, whose names have been mentioned in the status report and no decision for grant of sanction for prosecution or against prosecution has been taken so far, the DB directed the State to take a decision within a period of one month from today. The officers, in whose cases there is a stay order, will not come under the purview of these directions, the DB clarified.
“We hope that the decision with regard to according sanction for prosecution is taken in accordance with the law laid down by the Supreme Court in judgment rendered in the case of Subramanian Swamy Versus Manmohan Singh and Another”, the DB said.
According to the observations made by the Apex Court, grant or refusal of sanction is not a quasi-judicial function and the person for whose prosecution sanction is sought is not required to be heard by the competent authority before it takes a decision in the matter. Therefore, there is no requirement that such a person should be either put on notice or encouraged to make any representation.
With these observations and directions, the DB directed the Registry to list the PIL for further consideration on October 1, 2012.
According to the status reports, over two and half year long investigation against KAS officer Babu Ram, then CDPO Doda and others for their involvement in illegal appointments of Anganwari workers and helpers was completed in June 29, 2011 and the case was sent to General Administration Department for prosecution sanction on August 3, 2011.
Following referral of his case for prosecution sanction, the KAS officer filed representation before GAD and the same was referred to Social Welfare Department on October 12, 2011 for comments. However, despite repeated reminders on December 15, 2011, March 9, 2012 and May 17, 2012, the Social Welfare Department didn’t furnish the comments.
Similarly, three and half years long investigation against Mohammad Yousaf Bhat, then ACD Anantnag and others, who were booked for non-execution of electrification works of various Panchayat Ghars of District Anantnag, was completed by the Vigilance Organization on January 10, 2008 and the case was sent to the Government for prosecution sanction on January 15, 2008.
The prosecution sanction in the much-publicized Gulmarg land scam involving the then Divisional Commissioner, Mehboob Iqbal and then Deputy Commissioner Baramulla Baseer Ahmad Khan (presently Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar), is still awaited. The Vigilance investigation into the case was completed in November 12, 2010 and the case sent to Government for prosecution sanction on December 9, 2010 and during the pendency of decision, Mehboob Iqbal attained superannuation in November 2011.
The Vigilance Organization had sought prosecution sanction against KAS officer Ghulam Hassan Wani, the then Joint Registrar Cooperative, Kashmir for possessing disproportionate assets, on December 20, 2011. The case of IFS officer Farooq Ahmad Geelani, who was booked by the Vigilance Organization for misappropriation of funds during his posting as Chief Executive Officer IWDP Rambiara in 2003, was referred to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests on March 20, 2012.
Similarly, applications seeking sanction for prosecution of two more IFS officers—Ajaz Ahmad and Abdul Gani Hajan, the then Managing Director SFC Baramulla and the then GM North SFC respectively, who had committed irregularities regarding allotment of contract for extraction and transportation of timber in 2008, were referred to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest on June 22, 2011.
The sanction for prosecution of Ghulam Rasool Sofi, then Ancillary Labour FCI Godown, Sheikhpora, Budgam and Mohammad Maqbool Dar, then Manager SIDCO, who were trapped by the Vigilance while demanding and accepting bribe, has not been granted by the GM, FCI Jammu and MD J&K SIDCO despite the fact that the cases were sent to them on October 9, 2009 and November 15, 2010 respectively.
Likewise, the sanction for prosecution of P K Sethi, the then Divisional Manager SICOP Kashmir, M Y Ahanger, then Financial Advisor (M) SICOP, Shujat Ali Chala, then Junior Assistant SICOP, Syed Sibus Syedian, then Marketing Manager SICOP, Altaf Hussain Joo, then Deputy Financial Advisor SICOP, Mohammad Akbar Lone, then District Manager SICOP, Kupwara and Mohammad Yousaf Lone, then Marketing Manager, SICOP Srinagar is awaited from the Industries and Commerce Department and MD SICOP.
The sanction for prosecution of Shaukat Ali Wani, then MD Handicrafts (S&E) Corporation, Ghulam Hassan Shalla, then Manager, Kashmir Government Arts Emporium (now retired) and Mohammad Ashraf Shalla, then Assistant Manager J&K Handicrafts Corporation, who were booked by the Vigilance Organization for misappropriation of funds on account of expenditure incurred for participation in Carpet Oasis Fair-2005 at Dubai (UAE), has not been granted till date.
The representation of Shaukat Ali Wani was referred to Industries and Commerce Department on September 21, 2011 for comments followed by reminders on December 15, 2011, April 16, 2012 and May 24, 2012 but the Industries and Commerce Department has not responded till date.
The case diary relating to Tilak Raj Bhagat, then Executive Engineer, PWD (R&B) Kathua, who was booked by Vigilance Organization in 2008 for purchase of floronite concrete hardener on exorbitant rates, was sought by the Government from Vigilance Commissioner on January 19, 2012 but the same has not been submitted till date.
In Disproportionate Assets case against Nazir Ahmad Choudhary, the then AEE in TLDC-1, Panama Chowk, Jammu registered in 2007, the Commissioner of Vigilance was requested on February 16, 2012 to furnish comments on the representation of the accused officer but the same are still awaited.
Similarly, in a case of making purchases on exorbitant rates registered against Puran Bharat Gandhi and D V Koul, the then XEns PWD registered in 2007, the Vigilance Organization was written by the Government in May 14, 2012 for clarification regarding certain issues pertaining to the facts of the case.

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