Enquiry Committee Confirms Bungling in J&K Housing Board

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SRINAGAR: Justice Tashi Rabstan of J&K High Court (Jammu Wing) in a significant order on Monday directed Senior AAG Seema Khajooria Shekhar appearing for State Vigilance Organisation to file the latest status of the inquiry into Rs 27 crore bunglings in J&K Housing Board by or before the next date of hearing i.e. July 11, 2016.

Advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmad appearing for the petitioner Prof S K Bhalla drew the attention of the court to paras 5 & 6 of the status report filed by Alok Puri (IPS) Inspector General of Police, State  Vigilance Organisation wherein he had divulged that the matter of Rs 27 Crore bungling being under inquiry with the government as such the complaint lodged by the petitioner was referred to the Commissioner/Secretary Housing and Urban development Department with the request to furnish a factual report along with the outcome of the inquiry in light of the allegations made in the complaint.

The IGP SVO further divulged that a reminder was also sent to the Housing department on May 19, 2016 but the factual report is awaited.

Advocate S S Ahmad, according to CNS, further submitted that today the Commissioner/Secretary H&UDD has filed a status report in WPPIL No 9/2012 titled Sheikh Mohammad Shafi v/s Union of India wherein it is divulged that on 22 June, 2016 the Inquiry Committee has finally submitted its report to the Housing and Urban Development Department (H&UDD). Advocate Ahmad produced a copy of the said status report along with the inquiry report in the open court and sought appropriate directions to the SVO to proceed further in the matter.

Advocate S S Ahmad read the inquiry report in the open court  and submitted that the allegations levelled by the petitioner has been substantiated by the three member inquiry committee constituted way back on July 14, 2015 by Mr Bipul Pathak the then Commissioner/Secretary H&UDD. Advocate Ahmad read para 15 of the inquiry committee report wherein it was established that the Board has executed the works beyond its jurisdiction i.e works have been undertaken in areas/colonies which are not under its control i.e in the colonies which have neither been developed by the Housing Board and nor transferred to the Board by the government for their upkeep/upgradation.

It was further concluded that the Board has undertaken the construction of shelters/dwelling units for weaker sections of the society without any approved schemes or approved guidelines. The list of the beneficiaries of the activity has not been approved by any competent authority and mechanism adopted for selection of beneficiaries could not be known.

The inquiry further established that the works have been undertaken without any budgetary provisions thereby depleting the financial reserves of the Board which are meant for the welfare of the employees like salaries, pensions and other benefits to the serving and retired employees of the Board. Further funds have been released to the Engineering sections/Divisions by the Accounts Sections without ensuring that requisite codal formalities are followed by the executing agencies i.e DGMs of the J&K Housing Board and the committee also observed that prescribed guidelines have not been exercised at any level during the execution of the works. The responsibilities/duties associated with the offices of the Managing Director, FA/CAO, DGMs, Technical Officers have not been discharged diligently.

Advocate Ahmad while referring to the inquiry report submitted that cat is out of the bag and now there is no hiccup for SVO to proceed further and nail the culprits. He requested the court to issue appropriate directions to the SVO to speed up the probe as the Apex court has fixed only fifteen days for finalisation of a preliminary inquiry in a corruption case.

Advocate Ahmad further submitted that despite mind blowing revelations by the inquiry committee no action has been taken by the government against the erring officers/officials of the Housing Board and they continue to enjoy the plum postings.

After considering the submissions of Advocate S S Ahmad, Justice Tashi Rabstan observed that the counsel for the petitioner submits that once inquiry report has been filed by the committee in the above referred WPPIL NO. 09/2012, thus SVO could not sit over the inquiry report. Therefore, the said inquiry report be treated as inquiry report in this matter as well.

Justice Tashi Rabstan after hearing both the sides and looking into the sensitivity of the issue directed senior AAG Seema Khajooria Shekhar appearing for state vigilance organisation to file the latest status of the inquiry by or before the next date of hearing i.e. July 11, 2016.

 

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