Ball is in government’s court

THE High Court of Jammu and Kashmir, in a recent judgment, has ruled that State Accountability Commission (SAC) has no power to initiate suo moto proceedings on the basis of an anonymous— or as good as anonymous— complaint(s). In a clubbed bunch of petitions that were before the court, the common question involved was whether the SAC has power to suo moto direct investigation, inquiry or proceedings against a public functionary under the J&K Accountability Commission Act, 2002. The petitioners had felt aggrieved over the action of the SAC vis-à-vis initiating suo moto proceedings against them on the basis of “anonymous” complaint(s). The petitioners had built up their case primarily on the ground that the Act did not confer any power on the SAC to initiate suo moto investigation/inquiry. To buttress their argument, they pleaded that the SAC lacked jurisdiction “to commence proceedings, on its own, on the facts that come to its notice otherwise than in the form of complaint contemplated under the Act.” While agreeing with the stand of most of the petitioners and disposing of the petitions, bench of Justice Hasnain Massodi observed that “law makers are free to confer power on the SAC to suo moto order inquiry, investigation or proceeding against a public functionary by making necessary amendment in the Act.”
With this judgment the ball now lies in the court of the government. Unlike courts which have inherent powers to dispense justice, the SAC at present does not yield any such power. In terms of the Act, the SAC has only jurisdiction to act on a complaint received by it in accordance with the statute. As a statutory body it functions within the parameters of the statute that has created it. So if the state government is true to its commitment to bring about transparency in the system and strengthen the institutions of democracy, it should not shy away from injecting the adequate powers into the SAC. As has been held in very clear terms by the court that the “principle of purposive interpretation cannot be pressed into service (by it) to rewrite law. Such power belongs to the legislature, and not to the Courts.”

Lastupdate on : Tue, 8 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 8 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 9 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST

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