JAMMU, June 15: Almost all the departments have been flouting repeated Government directions on entrusting departmental enquiries to the Commission of Enquiries (CoE) and still preferring in-house probes, which are largely resulting into exoneration of the erring officers and officials.
Shockingly, the General Administration Department (GAD), which is the author of such directions and instructions, has also rendered the Commission of Enquiries defunct by neither providing full time Commissioner nor adequate manpower.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that several decades back Government constituted Commission of Enquiries under the overall supervision of General Administration Department and from time to time instructions were issued to all the departments to entrust the departmental enquiries to the Commission as per the procedure and guidelines laid down in the Government Order No.1634-GAD of 1988 dated November 10, 1988.
The objective behind constitution of Commission of Enquiries was to ensure expeditious disposal of the departmental enquiries that too without any biased approach and favoritism. Moreover, this step was aimed at relieving extra burden on the officers of the concerned departments who are entrusted the task of holding investigations.
However, there was no adherence to the instructions of the General Administration Department as a result of which either the departmental enquiries were getting delayed or the erring officers coming out clean after managing to influence the enquiry officer(s).
Taking cognizance of this, the General Administration Department vide Order No.1 dated January 3, 2018 asked all the Administrative Secretaries, both the Divisional Commissioners, all Heads of the Departments and Deputy Commissioners to ensure that departmental enquiries are conducted through Commission of Enquiries positively as per the laid down guidelines.
“Majority of the departments have yet not started taking even this order of the GAD seriously and departmental enquiries are still being conducted in-house by constituting committee(s) of the departmental officers”, sources said while pointing towards numerous orders issued by key departments ever since the issuance of fresh instructions in the month of January this year.
“The instructions about approaching Commission of Enquiries for departmental enquiries are being flouted by the departments despite the fact that due to such a practice the officers of the concerned department get burdened thereby resulting into hampering of routine work”, sources said while attributing inordinate delay in departmental enquiries to non-adherence to instructions of assigning task to Commission of Enquiries.
“Moreover, the in-house investigations are either leading to exoneration of the erring officers and officials or with just warning about being careful in future as such the prevailing mechanism of holding departmental enquiries has failed to act as deterrent”, they said.
It is pertinent to mention here that there are numerous instances of officers and officials attaining age of superannuation during the pendency of the departmental enquiries and this was also viewed seriously by the State High Court in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) highlighting non-serious approach in taking departmental enquiries to the logical conclusion in a time bound manner.
“The General Administration Department, which is the author of circular instructions vis-à-vis getting departmental enquiries conducted through Commission of Enquiries, is also responsible for the prevailing situation up to certain extent as it has failed to make the Commission functional in real sense”, sources said.
They further said, “actually the Commission has been rendered a platform to be used for giving punishment posting to any officer instead of being used for the purpose behind its establishment”, adding “there was hardly any time when either sufficient tenure was given to the officer posted as Commissioner or all the paraphernalia to ensure Commission’s smooth functioning”.
The non-serious approach towards the Commission is notwithstanding the fact that it has powers to summon and enforce the attendance of any person and examining him on oath, pass directions for production of any document, receive evidence on the affidavits etc.