SAC gears up to tackle graft
To Approach High Court For Disposal Of Pending Cases
Srinagar, Sep 24: In a significant development, the premier anti-graft body—State Accountability Commission—has decided to go tough against corrupt public functionaries. To begin with, the Commission is likely to approach the Jammu and Kashmir High Court formally and make a request for “early hearing of SAC cases wherein the court has passed interim orders.”
Highly placed sources disclosed to Greater Kashmir that while the Commission has shot notices to a number of public functionaries, against whom complaints were pending in the anti-graft body, it has decided to approach the High Court requesting it to “take up the SAC cases as early as possible” for further necessary action.
There are at least two dozen cases wherein, according to sources, the High Court has passed interim orders or have stayed the SAC judgments against the “tainted” public functionaries.
“We would request the court to hear our arguments and we are asking our lawyers to file CMP in the Court, wherever required,” said a SAC functionary, insisting not to be named.
While going through the pending cases, the sources said, the Commission observed that some of its earlier orders had been challenged on the grounds that “at one point in time, the Commission was legally invalid to issue such orders.”
“Some orders have been challenged on the grounds that the Commission then was not competent to issue such orders. While we are first going to revisit the argument and see how far it is true, we can fight these complaints afresh in case the need arises. Because this time nobody can challenge the constitution of the Commission,” the sources said.
Sources said the SAC is also considering having an “independent counsel” to fight its cases in court.
Most of the orders passed by the Commission between 2006 and 2008 were challenged in the High Court on the ground that, SAC at that time had no full-fledged chairman and it was headed by Justice GL Raina as acting chairman.
While Justice RP Sethi, the first chairman of the Commission, resigned in protest in 2006, Justice Raina who was member of commission served as its acting chairman till his retirement in 2008 while Justice Muzaffar Jan, the only member of the commission, retired in October 2009.
The SAC has already revived the pending complaints and shot off notices to a number of public functionaries, including some ministers and legislators, to appear in person or through their lawyer before the commission.
“All the pending cases have been revived and notices in many cases have already been issued. In the meantime, we are considering an independent group of lawyers to fight the SAC cases in the court,” the SAC functionary told Greater Kashmir.
The Jammu and Kashmir State Accountability Commission Act of 2003 has been recently amended under the banner of J&K State Accountability Commission (Amendment) Act, 2011. The latter is now being referred to as the “Principal Act.” The Principal Act has been amended to the extent that the SAC shall exclusively deal with ‘public functionaries’.
A public functionary, according to the amended Act, means a person who is or was at any time: the Chief Minister or a Minister, Speaker or Deputy Speaker of the State Legislative Assembly, Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the State Legislative Council, a member of the State Legislature, advisor to Governor, advisor to government including the political advisor to Chief Minister, anyone given the status of a minister or minister of state by the government in connection with discharge of his official functions, or those appointed by the government as Chairmen (other than a government servant) of any statutory corporation or autonomous board.
Unlike the past, the SAC has this time decided not to publish complaints in newspapers until the prima facie probe against an accused official doesn’t point to his involvement.
Previously the Commission would publish complaints in newspapers immediately after receiving them. But, according to legal experts, it is against the law. The Act says that the Commission must conduct a preliminary inquiry first. And if it is convinced that there is a prima facie case, it should be made public.
Lastupdate on : Sat, 24 Sep 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 24 Sep 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 25 Sep 2011 00:00:00 IST
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