The Jammu and Kashmir State Accountability Commission (SAC) has ordered a regular inquiry into Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand’s alleged involvement in misuse of official position, corruption, and favouritism, after finding him prima facie involved in illegal appointments in urban local bodies.
While disposing a complaint on Monday, Chairman Y.P. Nargotra and member Hakim Imtiyaz Hussain ordered SAC’s regular inquiry into Mr. Chand’s conduct in a large number of illegal appointments in the State’s urban local bodies. A notice has been served to the respondent asking him to come up with his defence within six weeks.
As no prosecutor has been provided to the Commission by the government, the Bench of the two retired judges of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court has sought Advocate General Ishaq Qadiri’s assistance in the prosecution.
The Bench observed that the respondent Minister, who held the Housing & Urban portfolio during the period in question, had not denied the charges in statement. It noted that Mr. Chand had merely claimed to have taken cognizance of the illegal appointments and ordered two inquiries.
“Though an inquiry has been ordered in the matter, the conspicuous silence of the respondent about his role in the appointments cited above, makes the respondent prima facie liable for violation of the rules,” said the order. “Copies of the engagement orders, placed on file as annexure to the complaint, also show prima facie that these engagements have been made in gross violation of the rules.”
The complainant Saquib Mushtaq has alleged in his petition that Mr. Chand had “misused his official position and by means of corruption, favouritism and nepotism engaged/ appointed scores of people in public employment.”
Over 10,000 illegal appointments are estimated to have been made in nearly 150 urban local bodies in J&K in the last 10 years. Of these, around 5,000 have been made by different Executive Officers allegedly at the instance of the Housing & Urban Development Minister in the last four years. In several cases, husbands have issued appointment orders in favour of their wives and fathers engaged their sons and daughters. Most of these “appointment orders” mention that these were being issued on the “desire” of the Minister or MLA concerned.