Fighting Corruption: HC Questions Govt Intention

Srinagar—The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has questioned the intention of government as it quashed its order against Abdul Rashid Shah, incharge Executive Officer Municipal Committee Magam. 

Shah was one among 63 “deadwood” officials sacked in 2015 by ruling PDP-BJP government based on report by a high-level committee constituted for the purpose. 

 “‘Francis Bacon’ (1561 to 1626)—(English philosopher) said and I quote, ‘Laws are like cobwebs; wherein the small flies are caught and the bumble bees break through’,” a bench of Justice M K Hanjura said as it found the quote apt in context of the government’s order against 63 officers who were prematurely retired by it in 2015.  

The court referred to an Unstarred question by Ashok Khajuria in state legislature regarding the number and names of Government and PSU Officers and Officials against whom the State Vigilance Organization (SVO) and Crime Branch have sought sanction for their prosecution from GAD. 

Part (b) of the question, the court observed pertains to the Officers and Officials against whom sanction has been accorded for their prosecution and while part C specifies against whom sanction was pending and the reason for delayed prosecution was the accord of sanction. 

“Annexure “A1”, appended to the Unstarred CQ contains the list of 126 employees and, Annexure “A2”, is the list of 13 employees. Similarly, Annexure “B”, contains the list of 142 employees and, Annexure “B1”, contains the list of 8 employees. Annexure “C”, bears the names of 20 employees and, Annexure “C1”,is the list of 5 employees,” the court said, adding, “Had the intention of the State been to weed out all the deadwood on the parameters that the Committee evolved, all the employees, figuring in the annexures, would have been shown the door after taking resort to the provisions of Article 226(2) of the Jammu and Kashmir Civil Services Regulations.”

 However, the court said, only a skeletal of the employees (small flies) including Shah have been shown the exit and the bumble bees have been allowed to break through. 

“The cases of only some of the employees have been treated as unique and the rare ones. They have been discriminated invidiously and the rules of the game have not been applied equally,” the court said.  

The government had stated that the record regarding the involvement of the petitioner in corrupt practices was placed before the Committee. “The case relating to disproportionate assets vis-à-vis the known sources of income, bearing No: 9/2013 VOK(DA) was also placed before the Committee. In addition, the cases, in which FIRs have been lodged and are under probe, were also placed before the Committee, viz. FIR Nos. 13/2013-VOK, 14/2013-VOK and 15/2013-VOK,” the government said, adding, “The Committee, on consideration of the available records, received from the Directorate of Urban Local Bodies, Kashmir, observed that the petitioner does not enjoy good reputation in the public due to his inconsistent conduct over a period of time.” Shah, however, contended it and sought quashing of the order.   

“It is not based on any material from which a reasonable opinion could be derived to put forth the plea that the petitioner has outlived his utility as a Government servant or that his conduct was such that his continuance in service would be prejudicial to the public interest. Merely that a case or cases have been registered against the petitioner by the Vigilance Organization cannot form the basis of retiring him compulsorily, as a corollary to which, the impugned order bearing No. 168-HUD of 2015 dated 30th of June, 2015, is quashed,” the court said and ordered government to reinstate him. 

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