Tara Chand, Babus In Dock: Court Issues Fresh Directions

JAMMU: Special Judge Anti-Corruption Jammu, Puneet Gupta Monday directed State Vigilance Organization to complete the investigation into the much publicized complaint filed against Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand, his personal staff and senior IAS and KAS officers regarding ‘Double Drawl of Petrol Oil Lubricants (POL)’ within a period of four months from today.

The Court further directed that, in case the needful is not done within the four months time frame and further time is sought, the SVO will be required to satisfy the court for not completing the inquiry within the given time before any further extension is granted.

According to news gathering agency CNS the Judge further observed: “the court further expects that the concerned agency will complete the investigation within the time granted and the court will not be burdened with further request to extend the period for completion of inquiry.”

These significant directions were passed today by Special Judge Anti-Corruption Jammu in a complaint filed by a noted RTI activist Prof. S.K.Bhalla through advocate Sheikh Shakil Ahmed.

The applicant had filed an application before the court for seeking fresh status of the ongoing investigation into the ‘Double Drawl of POL’ in which the Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand and his personal staff have been arrayed as accused.

It is noteworthy here that the complainant after having inputs through RTI applications lodged a complaint against Tara Chand then Minister for Housing and Urban Development Department (H&UD), Suresh Kumar IAS then Commissioner Secretary H&UDD, Dr Raj Kumar Thapa special assistant to Deputy Chief Minister, Prabu Singh, Kewal Sharma and Vijay Kumar all pubic Relation Officers to Tara Chand, P.K. Poley former Vice Chairman Jammu Development Authority, Mubarak Singh former Commissioner Jammu Municipal Corporation (JCA) presently Deputy Commissioner Doda and S.C.Sawheny Director Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan before Jammu and Kashmir State Vigilance Organization last year seeking registration of FIR for Double Drawl of POL and misuse of government vehicles by the Deputy Chief Minister and his personal staff.

Prof. S.K.Bhalla in his complaint stated that 21 vehicles are at the disposal of Deputy Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir and the POL is being obtained fraudulently from Jammu Municipal Corporation, Srinagar Municipal Corporation, Jammu Development Authority, LAWDA and other organizations.

According to the complainant, Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand as per government norms was entitled to have POL from his administrative department that is H&UDD and also from security organizations with regard to escort vehicles. However, the Information obtained under RTI disclosed that the personal section of the Deputy CM requisitioned not only the vehicles numbering 21 from various departments under his administrative control but also obtained POL from JDA,JMC,LAWDA and SMC in addition to police and H&UDD.

According report, complainant has stated that 414 slips/requisition letters have been issued by the personal section of Deputy CM for issuance of POL for 21 vehicles from JMC.

The complainant has indicated the registration numbers of such vehicles which were at the disposal of Deputy CM and his personal staff.

Today when this case came up for hearing before the Special Judge Anti-Corruption Jammu, the court heard arguments advanced by S.Harminder Singh, Chief Prosecuting Officer appearing for SVO and advocate Shiekh Shakil Ahmed appearing for whistle blower S.K.Bhalla.

The court observed that the status has been furnished in terms of order dated May 24, 2013 and in the status report six months time is stated to be required to conclude the verification as it is submitted that the matter is required to be verified from different officers and drivers posted in different parts of the state.

The Counsel for the Complainant, advocate S.S.Ahmed submitted that he has no grievances so far the direction in which the inquiry is taking place in the matter. However, he said that he is aggrieved of the time being taken by SVO to complete even the preliminary probe in the matter. He opposed the grant of six months time to complete the inquiry and submitted that SVO has already taken sufficient time to complete the inquiry.

After considering the rival contentions advanced by both the sides, the Special Judge Anti Corruption Court Puneet Gupta passed a significant order directing the SVO to complete the investigation with a period of four months time from today and also disposed off the application filed by complainant Prof. S.K.Bhalla. 

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