A Division Bench of the State High Court comprising Justice Alok Aradhe and Justice Sanjeev Kumar expressed its anguish over the non-filing of the Action Taken Report (ATR) by the Commissioner/Secretary to Govt. of J&K, Housing and Urban Development Department with regard to the action taken into the preliminary enquiry report submitted by the committee of officers constituted vide Govt. Order No.178-HUD of 2015 dated July, 14, 2015 to probe Rs.27 crore scam in J&K Housing Board.After hearing Advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed with Advocates Suraj Singh, Rahul Raina and Supriya Chouhan appearing for the PIL titled Sheikh Mohd. Shafi & Anr V/s Union of India & Ors, the Division Bench headed by Justice Alok Aradhe granted four weeks further time to Sr. AAG S.S. Nanda appearing for Housing and Urban Development Department to comply the order dated May, 26, 2017 so as to enable him to file the status report and the Division Bench further directed that in case the needful is not done then the court shall be constrained to take coercive action against the respondents.
When this much publicized PIL centering against corruption in State of J&K came up for hearing, Advocate S.S. Ahmed drew the attention of the court towards order dated May, 26, 2017 when the Division Bench had granted four weeks time to Senior AAG S.S. Nanda to file ATR in MP No.4/2016 wherein the Commissioner/ Secretary to Govt., Housing and Urban Development Department has placed on record the preliminary enquiry report into Rs.27 crore scam in J&K Housing Board wherein the Committee of officers had indicted the then Managing Director, FA/CAO, DGM’s and Technical Officers. Vide same order the Division Bench had also directed Senior AAG Seema Khajooria Shekhar to comply the order dated June, 29, 2016 whereby directions were issued to the GAD to submit a chart indicating the progress achieved by various Departments in the ongoing 147 departmental inquiries.Advocate Ahmed further submitted that matter was further listed on July, 4, 2017 when again Division Bench extended time by two weeks to file the ATR and the status report in the matter but even today the needful has not been done which shows the casual approach towards the directions of the Court.
Senior AAG S.S. Nanda appearing for Housing and Urban Development Department submitted that he has already forwarded the copy of the Miscellaneous Petition No.04/2016 to the Administrative Department but the said Department has not received the same at Srinagar. At this stage Advocate S.S. Ahmed appearing for the PIL submitted that he has the latest information in the matter gathered from media reports and as a matter of fact the Commissioner/Secretary to Govt. of J&K Housing and Urban Development Department has appointed Commissioner Municipal Corporation Jammu as enquiry officer to probe into the matter. However despite opportunities being granted on 26-05-2017 and 04-07-2017 the status report is not being filed on behalf of Commissioner/Secretary, Housing and Urban Development Department.Advocate S.S. Ahmed further drew the attention of the Division Bench towards a celebrated Judgment of the Supreme Court titled Centre for Public Interest Litigation and Another V/s Union of India & Anr reported as (2005) 8 SCC 202 wherein the Apex Court held that the persons facing serious allegations of corruption should not be given sensitive/public dealing posts. Advocate Ahmed further submitted that in the preliminary enquiry report the officers who have been found guilty of irregularities are still occupying their posts against whom the enquiry is contemplated.
Advocate Ahmed further submitted that the status report which may be filed on behalf of the Housing and Urban Development Department may indicate whether the Commissioner /Secretary is contemplating to shift the delinquent officers in order to ensure fair and impartial enquiry. At this stage Senior AAG S.S. Nanda once again prayed for adjournment so as to enable him to file the status report. The DB granted four weeks time to Senior AAG S.S. Nanda to comply with the order dated 26-05-2017 failing which the court warned to take coercive action against the respondents.At this stage Senior AAG Seema Khajooria Shekhar submitted that although vide order dated June, 29, 2016 the GAD was directed to file a complete chart indicating the progress achieved in various departmental enquiries. She further submitted that this court earlier impleaded more than 14 Administrative Secretaries as party respondents in the PIL and they were directed to file individual status reports indicating the progress of departmental enquiries in their respective Departments. Senior AAG Seema Khajooria Shekhar further submitted that it would be proper in case the concerned Departments are directed to file the progress reports of various departmental enquiries as GAD is facing difficulties in gathering the status from various Departments.After considering the submissions of both the sides, the Division Bench directed Senior AAG H.A. Siddiqui to file the status report on behalf of Department of Law and Parliamentary Affairs, Deputy AG Vishal Bharti was given time to file the status report on behalf of Social Welfare Department whereas Deputy AG Raman Sharma was granted time to file the status report on behalf of Commissioner Vigilance.The Division Bench directed the Registry to list this PIL for further consideration on September, 11 this year. (CNS)