Bill to amend J&K Accountability Act

JAMMU, FEB. 26. A Bill to amend the Jammu and Kashmir Accountability Act was placed before the Assembly here today. This follows an announcement by the State Government last year on the setting up of an accountability commission to weed out corruption in high public offices.

In the last session, the opposition had raised a number of objections in the draft Act and the Government had agreed to form a select committee to look into the amendments. The new Bill has incorporated a number of recommendations by the select committee. For instance, as per the new Bill, in the absence of a leader of opposition in the Assembly, the leader of the single largest group or party in opposition shall be deemed to be a member of the committee appointed for selecting the chairperson of the accountability commission. Other members would include the Chief Minister, the Assembly Speaker, the Chief Justice of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court and the State Law Minister.

A number of stringent provisions have been added in the new Bill making it difficult to remove the chairman of the commission. The new Bill makes it mandatory for the complainant to reveal his identity and his complaint has to be accompanied by an affidavit.

The concerned public functionary shall present his defence within two months and the competent authority shall furnish its comments within two months from the date of receipt of the copy. Sources said a former Supreme Court judge is tipped to be the chairperson of the accountability commission.