New DelhiThe Supreme Court has stayed the order of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court which restored the State Accountability Commission’s power to initiate proceedings on its own against any minister or legislator on the basis of anonymous complaints in graft cases.
The top court asked the state government and the SAC to file their counter affidavits and rejoinders, if any, to the plea.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra said that there is no mention of the words ‘suo motu’ and there is no substantive provision under the Act, which vests such power in the SAC.
“The counter affidavits be filed within four weeks. Rejoinder affidavits, if any, be filed within two weeks therefrom. Let the matter be listed for final disposal on July 24, 2018. In the meantime, there shall be a stay on operation of the impugned judgment,” the bench said on Friday.
Senior advocate Shekhar Naphade and state Advocate General Jahangir Iqbal Ganai, appearing for the Jammu and Kashmir government, said that the high court erred in its finding by restoring the power to the SAC to initiate proceeding on its own in corruption cases.
Senior advocate Collin Gonsalves, appearing for the SAC, said that the anti-graft body had the power to initiate proceedings suo motu against ministers, legislator or any public functionary.
Standing counsel Shoeb Alam of the state government said that the SAC did not have power and if exercised, it would be without any jurisdiction.
On April 20, the apex court had sought the reply from the SAC on an appeal of the state government.
The state government, in its plea, said that the commission’s power 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 motu action when there is no substantive provision under the Act vesting such a power … and is ultra vires the Act and all proceedings initiated in pursuance thereof are without any jurisdiction,” the appeal said.
A division bench of the high court had set aside the judgement of a single judge bench and restored the panel’s power to act on its own against any minister, legislator or people’s representative on the basis of anonymous complaints or media reports.
The division bench had said that striking down of Rule nine by the single judge bench had not denuded the SAC of its power and that was still intact.