Tale of four commissions

SAC, SIC, SHRC Toothless Tigers, SVC Non Existent


Srinagar, Jan 13: The statutory bodies established in Jammu and Kashmir to ensure transparency and accountability in governance are dying a silent death owing to “indifference” of the present National Conference- Congress regime.
 While State Accountability Commission (SAC) and State Information Commission (SIC) are “toothless tigers” due to loopholes in their innate legal mechanism.
 The fate of much- hyped State Vigilance Commission (SVC) is hanging in balance for the past two years. The tale of lone Rights body, State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) is no different, as it is lying headless for more than a year.

 Although the present regime credits itself with reviving the SAC that was established during Peoples Democratic Party -Congress rule in 2005, the institution continues to face government’s indifference. Government till date has not responded to the Commission’s repeated pleas to arm it with full-fledged investigation wing headed by an officer of the rank of Additional Director General of Police.
 Pertinently, Governor N N Vohra in 2011 had asked the State Government to fill up the vacancy of the second member of the Commission at the earliest. “There is need for the urgent appointment of the second member of the State Accountability Commission and filling up the vacancies in other Commissions,” Vohra had said on August 21, 2011. 
 However, State Government remained unmoved and is sitting over appointing the second member.
 Even, the SAC mandated to take on bigwigs like Chief Minister, Cabinet Ministers and legislators is without minimum required staff. At present out of five vacant gazetted-cadre posts only three have been filled up in the past one year. Similarly out of 28 non-gazetted posts 16 are still vacant.
 Above all, the SAC cannot take the suo-moto cognizance of any issue due to failure of the state government to empower it. Recently, the State High Court held that the anti- corruption watchdog cannot exercise suo- moto powers in absence of inherent powers.

 Constituted by the present dispensation to ensure transparency and accountability in day-to-day functioning of the government State Information Commission has turned into a “toothless tiger” two years down the line.
 While on one hand powerful bureaucracy clipped its wings by repealing RTI Rules- 2010, on the other, it is facing severe shortage of staff. Sources within the Commission state the issue of shortage of staff has been repeatedly raised with General Administration Department, over the past two years, but of no avail.
 At present, the Commission lacks 17 staffers particularly Under Secretaries and Legal Assistants.
 This is not an end to the plethora of woes for the prestigious institution. The cold attitude of several administrative and field departments is taking a toll on functioning of the SIC, primarily with regard to monitoring and reporting components prescribed under the J&K Right to Information Act of 2009.

 The non-constitution of much-talked State Vigilance Commission has put a question mark on claims of the State Government about weeding out corruption from the system as there is no independent authority to look into the complaints against public servants while include high profile bureaucrats.
 While framing the law for setting up of the SVC the State Government had brought public servants in its domain. But at the same time it had restrained the SAC to look into complaints against the public servants. While 2011 was consumed in the name of making necessary amendments in the SVC Act, the Commission couldn’t be constituted in 2012 owing to queries from Raj Bhavan over the name recommended by the panel headed by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah for the post of Chief Vigilance Commissioner.
 The impact of non- constitution of the SVC is evident on the ground as more than 290 cases of alleged corruption against the public servants are gathering dust in the SAC.

 The State Human Rights Commission constituted more than a decade ago in the wake of severe criticism over human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir is also at receiving end.
 The Commission has been headless for more than a year. It’s chairperson Justice (Retd) Bashiruddin had retired in October 2011. Since then no one has been appointed as the SHRC chairperson.
 The Commission is also functioning without Inspector General of Police and fourth member.
 Last but not the least, majority of its recommendations till date have been thrown into dustbin by the Empowered Committee of Home Department.
 Against 216 SHRC recommendations submitted to the Committee since 2008, only 86 have been accepted.

Lastupdate on : Sun, 13 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 13 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 14 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST

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