Commission was to make politicians accountable, not fight cases in court: Khan
The government has left the state’s anti-graft body State Accountability Commission (SAC) defunct by engaging in a legal tussle with the Commission over its powers to initiate suo moto action against ministers and MLAs.
The SAC is currently fighting a case in the Supreme Court filed by the state government challenging that the anti-graft body authority to investigate complaints against ministers and legislators in graft cases.
Talking to Rising Kashmir, SAC chairman, Justice Bashir Ahmed Khan said that during the tenure of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) government, the state government through its counsel had issued a notice to the commission questioning its suo-moto powers.
In April 2018, the Supreme Court issued notice to the SAC on the state government's appeal challenging the anti-graft body's suo-moto powers to look into complaints against public functionaries, including ministers and legislators, in graft cases.
The state government in its plea had said that the Commission's power of suo moto initiation of proceedings against a public functionary was "bad in law".
"The Accountability Commission in clear derogation of the provisions of the Act, has by virtue of Rule 9 of the Jammu and Kashmir Accountability Commission Regulations, 2005, clothed itself with the power to initiate suo moto action when there is no substantive provision under the Act vesting such a power in the Accountability The commission," the appeal said. Khan said lack of powers has left the three-member commission defunct.
“The reality is that corruption has become a norm in our society and anti-corruption mechanisms, wherever set up, are weakened eventually and rendered defunct,” Khan said. “The government creates a commission and then creates hurdles in its function.”
Khan said as soon the Accountability Commission started making an impact, most of its powers were “taken away step by step to render it useless.”
“So much so that the government is challenging its powers and actions day in and day out in courts,” he said. “At a time when SAC was supposed to make politicians and bureaucrats accountable, it is fighting cases in court to safeguard its very existence. What biggest irony can be than this?.”
SAC was constituted under provisions of J&K Accountability Commission Act, 2002. The mandate of the anti-graft body was to inquire into the grievances and allegations against public functionaries including Chief Minister, Ministers, MLAs and MLCs.
After remaining non-functional for over a year, it was reconstituted in 2015 by former Governor, N N Vohra. Khan was appointed as its new Chairman and Justice (Retd) J P Singh and Justice (Retd) Bashir Ahmad Kirmani were its two other members.