SAC receives poor public response, just 9 complaints for 3 top judges to decide

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Bharti Jasrotia

State Accountability Commission has seemingly lost confidence of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Complaints have stopped pouring in against ministers, MLAs, MLCS.

Three top judges are heading the Commission yet not much is happening in the commission. If sources are to be believed, the Commission has just eight to nine complaints to decide in its Jammu office. Of these, six have been filed by an RTI crusader from Doda namely Dr. Rehmatullah Khora.

Sources further said that the Commission has not so far taken any sue-motto action on the complaints which are in the public domain. They further said that the state government is spending more than nine lakhs on these three members which includes Chairperson Justice B.A Khan and the two members Justice J.P Singh and Justice B.A Kirmani but so far the response these members have received from the general public is both dismal as well as disappointing.

They added that people are not coming up with complaints neither is the commission taking suo-motto cognizance of reports of corruption and embezzlement appearing in various newspapers and news channels. The commission has gone completely silent with the three members including the chairperson

preferring not to share much of its proceedings with media or the three heads have realized that they enjoyed freedom and power when they were in the High Court and have seemingly found both missing in State Accountability Commission (SAC).

Moreover, Commission took up several high profile cases but could not move further towards investigation part due to the accused approaching court of law. A good number of high profile cases have been stayed by High Court and SAC cannot proceed further till the stay is not vacated. And because of this syndrome, the much trumpeted State Accountability Commission which respective governments had promised to strengthen has failed to make an impact.

Cases have been instituted against 20 ex-ministers but prosecution of the accused is nowhere in sight. Of those implicated by the commission, few have not only managed entry into electoral politics but have been calling the shots in the power corridors.  Respective parties including NC, PDP, BJP and Congress have often declared that their government was determined to set up an inquiry commission to probe misdeeds of the previous government.

They would promise that no one would be spared whether he is the chief minister or any other minister or an MLA but when it comes to calling a spade a spade, all have dithered. However, not much has happened since the day it was constituted. The commission suffered first casualty when it took the almost two years after the passage of the bill for the government to constitute this commission in September 2005 with retired late Justice R.P.Sethi as its Chairman.

An upright person, late Sethi’s work unnerved both the ministerial and bureaucratic circles. During Late Justice Sethi’s tenure, complaints were lodged against some senior ministers and bureaucrats of the coalition government. Not only were the complaints lodged but action was also initiated in most of them. However, legislators armed with the dagger of amendment reduced the commission merely to a paper tiger and scuttled its powers to act vehemently against those involved in scams and scandals.

He was forced to resign under bizarre circumstances. Later, it was learnt that reason behind the resignation of Justice Sethi was curtailing of the powers of the commission and conversion of SAC to a three-member body from a single-member one. . Two more judges were appointed. Justice G.L.Raina, former Additional Judge of the High Court and Justice Muzaffar Jan, former Judge of the same High Court were appointed as its members on March 31, 2006.

This led to Justice Sethi resigning as Chairperson of the commission on May 3, 2006 i.e. within eight months of his assuming the office, Justice Sethi reigned. The two members who kept commission functional retired on June 19, 2008 and April 15, 2009. Thereafter, Commission remained non-functional. Finally, Justice Y.P.Nargotra was appointed as Chairperson and Justice Hakim Imtiaz Hussain as member on August 16, 2011.

Both were former Judges of the High Court. They were administered oath of office on August 21, 2011. They too retired without making any significant impact. After remaining non-functional for over a year, the State Accountability Commission (SAC) was reconstituted on September 23, 2015 with former High Court Chief Justice Bashir Ahmed Khan being appointed as new Chairman and two other former judges Justice (retd) J.P.Singh and Justice (retd) B.A.Kirmani as members of Commission.

The appointments were made by Governor N.N.Vohra. This dismal response is despite the fact that high court recently restored suo-motto powers of the State Accountability Commission (SAC) to look into complaints against public functionaries.

 

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