Rashid Paul

Fight against corruption in J&K remains high, on OPTICS only

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ACB sitting on nearly 200 corruption cases filed against ‘very important’ politicians, officials

Srinagar: Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) entrusted for preventing and investigating corruption (in executive) is sitting on nearly 200 cases filed against “very important” persons including the politicians, bureaucrats, and other officials, of Jammu and Kashmir since past two decades.

To be specific, from 1998 to 2018, 295 cases were registered in the erstwhile state’s highest anti-corruption body, but investigation is “still going on in 192 cases”.

Thirty-five cases have been sent to the competent authority for sanction of prosecution for presentation of charge-sheet but the matter is still hanging around for years.

In 18 cases, final report has been submitted to the Central Office of the ACB but the agency is “sitting tight over the cases”.

In another 14 cases, directions were issued for reinvestigation, but it is yet to be scheduled.

Overall in about two-third of the total cases, the investigation is still in progress at ACB.

Interestingly, there are 31 cases pending wherein either investigation could not be concluded or the ‘challans’ (charges) could not be presented on account of the interim orders passed by the J&K High Court.

For instance, in FIRs registered in 2008 pertaining to the Industries Department, the current status of the investigation is mentioned as “posting details of the accused are being ascertained and some record is being obtained”.

In 2009, FIR was lodged against Dr. Nagender Sharma, the then Vice-Chancellor Sher-i-Kashmir University of Agriculture Sciences and Technology (SKUAST), Jammu, besides other senior officers including Dr K.S.Risam, the then Director Extension. The case related to alleged financial embezzlements and illegal recruitments.

After more than a decade, the case has been concluded but final report is “being prepared”.

In 2011, an FIR was lodged by against the then R&B minister Gulchain Singh Charak; Mohammad Subhan Najar, then Managing Director JKPCC, Nazir Ahmad Shah, then Chief Engineer PW (R&B) Kashmir, Madan Mohan Sharma, then Chief Engineer, PW (R&B) Jammu.

The case also included Daleep Thusoo, then General Manager JKPCC, Jammu; Vijay Kumar Channa, then DGM, JKPCC Unit IX Doda; S K Sethi, then DGM JKPCC, , and the then Assistant Engineer, JKPCC, Doda Gopal Sharma.

The accused minister and public servants had entered into “criminal conspiracy” and allotted construction contracts to favorite company without inviting bids.

The status of this matter was submitted to the Central Office after conclusion of investigation in July 2018, and was sent back in October 2018 with certain observations.

Thereafter the matter has been put under the carpet, say official documents.

Similar is the status of the FIRs registered against then Vice-Chairman, Jammu Development Authority (JDA), Joint Commissioner, Jammu Municipal Corporation (JMC); Managing Director, State Financial Corporation (SFC); Executive Director, State Social Welfare Board, Executing Engineers, and other officers in the Revenue department.

In many of the cases, the accused have retired. “May be investigations were kept pending to wait for that eventuality,” say the observers.

According to official details, there are number of cases in which FIRs were lodged in 2009, 2012 and 2013 but sanction for prosecution was sought in 2017, 2018 and 2020, respectively.

In an FIR registered in 1998, the investigation is still pending and the investigating agency says that the relevant information is not being furnished by the offices concerned.

In 2013, an FIR was lodged against the senior officers of Public Health Engineering (PHE) department pertaining to allegations of 21 non-existing works in Jammu.

The accused officers included V.K. Abrol, then Executive Engineer; U S Dour, then Executive Engineer; R C Gupta, then Executive Engineer PHE, Division Akhnoor; Surinder Singh, then AEE Sub Division Bhalwal; Sanjay Nargotra, then AEE Sub Division Bhalwal; R K Sharma, then head draftsman; N K Kholi, then head draftsman; TK Sharma, JE and D B Singh, JE.

The scope of investigation was later expanded to include 236 works. However, the investigation is still pending.

In one case pertaining to the Engineering department where FIR is pending consideration from 2013 onwards, the reason assigned is noncooperation of the concerned department.

“Apparently, they are all co-sharers in the loot. Hence, any cooperation in investigation cannot be to their benefit. The investigating agency has apparently surrendered before these unscrupulous corrupt persons in the system, who have either been directly arrayed as an accused in the FIR, or are conniving in not letting the investigation completed,” the two judge bench comprising Justices Rajesh Bindal and Sanjay Dhar had remarked while hearing a public interest petition on corruption in high offices.

The General Administration Department (GAD), custodian of entire record of the corrupt officers, too has not been forthright in furnishing the details to the adjudicators.

It may be uncomfortable to furnish information as many of the officers involved in the cases under PC Act may be enjoying plum postings even now and may have been granted all service benefits including promotions during the pendency of investigation, remarked the judges.

“Apparent reason of sleeping over these matters is connivance with the accused. As a result, the conduct of these officers also needs to be examined for abetting the crime and not letting the investigation reach the logical end,” they said.

In its latest hearing on the matter, the court found that the information furnished by counsel for the government is not in the form it should have been.

Either it is quite sketchy or confusing, making it difficult to find out any information, it said.

S S Ahmed, counsel for the petitioners, pointed out that details regarding enquiries pending against members of All India Services have not been furnished.

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