SAC cannot suo moto direct proceedings on anonymous complaints: HC
COURT STRIKES DOWN REGULATION 9
GK NEWS NETWORK
Srinagar,Jan 6: In a significant judgment, the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir has ruled that State Accountability Commission cannot suo-moto direct investigation, inquiry or proceedings against a public functionary on the basis of an anonymous— or as good as anonymous— complaint.
A bunch of petitions before it involved a common question as to whether the Accountability Commission established under Jammu and Kashmir Accountability Commission Act, 2002, has power to suo-moto direct investigation, inquiry or proceedings against a public functionary under the Act. In all the petitions, the Commission had suo-moto initiated proceedings under the Act against the petitioners.
A bench of Justice Hasnain Massodi struck down Regulation 9 holding it ultra vires the Jammu and Kashmir Accountability Commission and beyond power given to the Commission under Section 31 of the Act.
The court quashed the proceedings initiated against several Ministers and others by the Commission suo-moto on anonymous complaints. However, it held that Commission was within its power to initiate proceedings against Suman Lata Bhagat and her PRO Vikas Behal as in their case it had before it a complaint filed by Muhammad Shafi Indrabi lodged in accordance with the Act.
The court also held that lawmakers are free to confer power on the Commission to suo-moto order inquiry, investigation or proceeding against a public functionary by making necessary amendment in the Act keeping in view the alarming rise in the corruption. Brief history
Muhammad Shafi Indrabi filed a complaint before SAC under section 11 of the Act against Sunali Kumar, Principal Secretary Health and Medical Education Department and Ranjit Kour, Ex- Principal/tutor of AMT School, Srinagar, alleging financial irregularities by the respondents while running affairs of AMT School, Srinagar and violation of rules in making admissions in AMT School.
The SAC in March 2006 on perusal of the complaint and record made available opined that the complaint disclosed a fit case in which regular inquiry was required to be conducted not only against the respondents but also against Suman Lata Bhagat, then Minister for Health and Medical Education, Abdul Gani Sofi, then Minister for Health and Medical Education, Vikas Bhagat, then PRO of Minister for Health and Medical Education, and Halima, Principal AMT, School, Srinagar.
The Commission had accordingly arrayed Suman Lata Bhagat and three others as respondents 3 to 6 in the complaint and issued notice to the newly added respondents.
Bhagat questioned the jurisdiction of the Commission to take suo-moto action on the ground that the SAC did not have any such power and jurisdiction and prayed for quashment of order dated March 3, 2006, whereby she and three others were arrayed as respondents 3 to 6 and regular inquiry initiated against them.
Interestingly, the Commission had also received two anonymous complaints sometime in 2006 leveling allegations of corruption and acquisition of estate disproportionate to known source of income against Satvir Gupta formal DIG Doda-Udhampur Range.
The Commission on December 6, 2006 entertained the complaint and asked the Commissioner Vigilance to get the allegations secretly investigated through an officer not below the rank of IGP and submit the report at the earliest.
Gupta aggrieved with the order also sought its quashment on the ground that Commission lacked jurisdiction to entertain the complaint.
Earlier the Commission on March, 10, 2006 had received anonymous complaint against B. S. Dua, MD, Jammu and Kashmir Small Industries Development Corporation (SICOP) and other officers of the Corporation alleging misappropriation of crores of rupees, backdoor appointments and use of private vehicles on payment owned by Dua in running affairs of the Corporation.
The Commission entertained the complaint and amongst others issued notice to R. L. Tikoo GM SICOP, Jammu, requiring him to appear in person and submit his comments in reply to the complaint.
Aggrieved, Tikoo questioned jurisdiction of the Commission to entertain and proceed on an anonymous complaint.
Again, someone introducing himself as a well wisher of society, dispatched a complaint to the Commission leveling allegations of “naked corruption” against Sheikh Rafiq Ahmad Additional Deputy Commissioner, Jammu and Ravi Saran clerk in the office of Deputy Commissioner, Jammu while granting of Permanent Resident Certificate in violation of rules charging rupees one thousand per certificate from the beneficiaries.
There are also several other complaints where the SAC had taken cognizance.
Lastupdate on : Sun, 6 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 6 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 7 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST
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