SAC expresses serious concern as Estates Deptt again fails to submit cogent reply

Queries raised on more shocking aspects of allotments

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Oct 15: In a testimony of non-serious approach towards the grave issue of allotment of multiple accommodations to 62 legislators, the Estates Department has again failed to submit cogent reply to the Jammu and Kashmir State Accountability Commission. However, while expressing ‘anguish’ over the dilly-dallying approach the Commission has raised queries on more shocking aspects of allotments in both the capital cities of the State and sought explicit reply by next date of hearing.
Sources told EXCELSIOR that when the multiple accommodation case involving 62 legislators came up for hearing before the Full Commission comprising Justice B A Khan (Chairperson) and Justice J P Singh and Justice B A Kirmani (Members) few days back, counsel representing the Estates Department submitted that the issue was being examined by a high-powered committee.
He further submitted that earlier this high-powered committee was being headed by ADGP Security but now Principal Secretary to Government, Home Department has been made head of this committee, which is examining all the aspects of the multiple accommodation issue. “As and when the recommendations from this committee are received action will be taken”, the counsel reportedly told the Commission.
As there was no cogent reply, the Full Commission pointed out that on each and every hearing the Estates Department only stated that issue was being examined by high-powered committee. The Commission sought to know how long this committee will continue the exercise before making necessary recommendations to the Government.
While expressing serious concern over the dilly-dallying approach of the Estates Department towards the issue which is putting burden on the State exchequer, the Full Commission directed the counsel of Estates Department to come up with the clear stance by next date of hearing failing which Commission will be constrained to pass some ‘harsh’ orders, sources informed.
It is pertinent to mention here that most of these 62 legislators have held either 2+2 accommodation at Srinagar and Jammu while others have held 2+1 being only a step behind their other colleagues.
The Full Commission also raised some queries on more shocking aspects of allotment and sought explicit reply from the Estates Department on next date of hearing, sources said while disclosing that Commission has pointed out that there are number of instances which indicate that even those Ministers or legislators who have their own houses in either or both the capital cities have taken Estates Department bungalows.
It was also pointed out that there are some sitting or former Ministers and Legislators who are putting up in the Estates Department accommodation and have managed to rent out their own private houses to the department itself, sources further informed, adding “it is highly unjustifiable on the part of these sitting or former Ministers and legislators as by resorting to such activities they have been putting enormous burden on the State exchequer purely for their personal gains and comforts”.
The Accountability Commission has directed the Estates Department to explain whether the rules governing the allotment of accommodation permit these activities and if not then why no action has been taken to check this trend, sources said.
It is worthwhile to mention here that the issue of multiple accommodation was brought to the fore by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India in its report tabled in the State Legislature on June 29, 2016. It was pointed out by the highest audit institution of the country that Estates Department had made avoidable extra expenditure of nearly Rs 33 crore due to non-adherence to norms.
The J&K State Accountability Commission took suo-moto cognizance of these revelations of the supreme audit institution of the country and accordingly initiated the proceedings. As per the list furnished by the Estates Department, 44 MLAs and 18 MLCs, who are currently in occupation of official accommodation at Srinagar and Jammu, are also holding rooms in MLAs hostels of Jammu and Srinagar.


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