SAC selection panel meet put off
CM Indisposed; Soz Calls On Omar
Srinagar, July 18: A crucial meeting to constitute the State Accountability Commission was Monday postponed at the eleventh hour in the wake of Chief Minister’s indisposition and also the speculations that consensus eluded the coalition partners, National Conference and Congress, over the issue.
After years of inordinate delay, the selection panel was scheduled to meet here to recommend the names of SAC chairman and members.
However, early in the morning, an official spokesman shot off a press release announcing Chief Minister’s indisposition. “Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is indisposed and running high fever. All his engagements for the day thus stand cancelled,” the spokesman said.
Incidentally, the meeting was postponed barely minutes after the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah met the Pradesh Congress Committee Chief, Prof Saif-ud-Din Soz, giving rise to the speculations that National Conference and Congress were yet to evolve consensus on the names under consideration for the coveted posts of SAC chairman and members.
The state government, as a transparency measure, had already divulged the names of persons in the consideration zone for the anti-graft body. The names had been forwarded to the members of the Selection Committee comprising Chief Minister Omar Abdullah as chairman, with Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir High Court, Law Minister, Speaker of Legislative Assembly and Leader of Opposition as its members.
SAC shall consist of a chairperson who has been a judge of the Supreme Court or a judge of a High Court and two members who have also been the High Court judges.
The former Chief Justices and judges under consideration include Justice Bashir Ahmad Khan, Justice VK Gupta, Justice Bilal Nazki, Justice SK Gupta, Justice Yash Paul Nargotra, Justice Bashir Ahmad Kirmani, Rattan Chand Gandhi and Hakim Imtiyaz Hussain.
Pertinently, in 2009 the Committee had recommended names of Justice (retd) Yash Paul Nargotra and Justice (retd) Basheer Ahmad Kirmani as SAC members.
However, the recommendations were not accepted by the Governor NN Vohra on the grounds that the opposition leader Mehbooba Mufti was not part of the selection committee meeting.
Mehbooba had reportedly objected to the recommendations of the selection committee. Then the state had decided to convene the meeting on July 15 last year, but that couldn’t take off for unknown reasons, though the government cited political unrest in the Valley.
Ahead of today’s crucial meeting, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party had two days back urged the government to intimate to the committee, in advance, the names of persons under consideration, to ensure “greater transparency in the selection process.”
“One cannot do much about indisposition of chairman of the panel. It is however imperative for the government to reschedule the meeting as soon as possible and fulfil its commitment towards eliminating the menace of corruption from the state,” said a member of the SAC panel, wishing anonymity. “This meeting had been convened after years of inordinate delay. The State Law Department must ensure its quick rescheduling to put the Commission in place, as desired by the stakeholders from time to time.”
The member said the leadership of all the three parties—NC, Congress and PDP—must rise to the occasion and ensure constitution of the Commission. “The sole criterion for the selections should be the integrity of the persons. The selectees have to be the men of impeccable integrity so that the rot of corruption is stemmed effectively. There is no reason for any party to play politics over the issue, especially when all are beating the drum of eliminating the menace of corruption,” said a government official.
Pertinently since 2006, the Government has been making recurring claims on re-constituting the SAC after its first chairman Justice RP Sethi resigned in protest against alleged interference by the state government in its functioning. Since then Justice GL Raina who was member of the commission served as its acting chairman till his retirement in 2008 while Justice Muzaffar Jan, the only left-over member of the commission, retired in October 2009.
A bill to establish the SAC was introduced in the state legislature in 2002, with the then Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Muzaffar Hussain Baig announcing that the Commission would help to bring to book the politicians involved in corrupt practices. Later, the bill was passed and it became an Act, thus forming the SAC.
Recently the Jammu and Kashmir State Accountability Commission Act of 2003 was amended under the banner of J&K State Accountability Commission (Amendment) Act, 2011. The latter is now being referred to as the “Principal Act.”
Lastupdate on : Mon, 18 Jul 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 18 Jul 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 19 Jul 2011 00:00:00 IST
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