SAC reconstitution on anvil
Gupta, Khan, Nazki Frontrunners For Chairmanship
Srinagar, May 25: Faced with criticism over the ‘virtually defunct’ premier anti-corruption watchdog - State Accountability Commission - the Jammu and Kashmir government is likely to speed up the process for reconstituting the Commission.
Sources told Greater Kashmir that with the new Chief Justice of the state High Court, Justice Aftab Ahmad Saikia, having assumed office, the government is mulling to convene the meeting of Selection Committee to recommend the panel for appointment of chairman and members of the SAC to the Governor.
The selection committee headed by chief minister includes chief justice of the state high court, leader of the opposition, speaker legislative assembly and the law minister as members.
Law Minister, Ali Muhammad Sagar said the government has “started the process” for reconstituting SAC. “Government will seek time from the Chief Justice for the meeting and accordingly other members of the selection panel will be informed. By the end of the next month we expect lot of progress on the matter,” said Sagar, who is one of the members of the selection committee.
Officials said the names of the three retired Chief Justices, including Justice Bilal Nazki, Justice Bashir Ahmad Khan and Justice Vinod Gupta are doing rounds to be appointed as SAC head. “Justice (retd) Gupta is lobbying hard within different political quarters for appointment as the Commission head. Though he has more than 10 years of service as chief justice of different state High Courts, he was not elevated as Supreme Court judge for reasons best known to the authorities of the Apex Court,” sources said.
Last November the selection committee had recommended the names of Justice (retd) Yash Paul Nargotra and Justice (retd) Basheer Ahmad Kirmani of the state High Court to the governor for appointment as SAC members. “However the Governor’s office returned the proposal with the observation that the selection committee should also arrive
at the consensus over the Commission chairman,” said speaker legislative assembly Muhammad Akbar Lone, is also a member of the selection committee.
The date for another meeting didn’t mature and since the former Chief Justice, Justice Barin Gosh was transferred, the matter got shelved, said Lone. “The whole process will start a fresh,” he said.
However, the absence of leader of the opposition, Mehbooba Mufti, who is one of the members of the SAC selection panel, in the November meeting of the panel, who was at that time part of the official Hajj delegation to Saudi Arabia, was apparently one of the reasons for Governor to reject the panel’s recommendation.
Referring to names already recommended by the selection panel to the governor for appointment as SAC members, Sagar said the process had already been set in motion. He said the issue would be discussed in the coming meeting again and if the meeting arrives at consensus, the recommendations would be accordingly forwarded to the Governor for his approval.
The Commission was set up by the Peoples Democratic Party led coalition government in 2003 with an aim to make politicians and bureaucrats accountable. However, the body was rendered toothless soon after its Chairman R P Sethi, former judge of the Supreme Court, resigned in 2006, citing government’s ‘interference’ in the commission’s work and deficient infrastructure facilities as the reason.
Later Justice GL Raina, who was member of the commission also served as its acting Chairman till his retirement in 2008 while as its lone member Justice Muzaffar Jan retired in October 2009.
Taking note of government’s failure to reconstitute SAC, Jammu and Kashmir High Court had on November 14 directed the state government to appoint its chairperson without any further delay or wind up the Commission.
The state government has already amended the SAC Act restricting the jurisdiction of the Commission to taking cognisance of the complaints against public functionaries like Chief Minister, Ministers, Legislators, Chairmen of the boards and heads of the Municipal Corporations/Councils/ Committees.
Lastupdate on : Tue, 25 May 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 25 May 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 26 May 2010 00:00:00 IST
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