Delay in finalising investigation in corruption & other heinous offences
STATE TIMES NEWSJAMMU: A Division Bench of J&K High Court comprising Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Sanjay Dhar, in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) over delay in investigation of old FIRs of corruption and heinous offices and not presenting Challan in Court of law, passed strictures against Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) for sitting over the cases.The Division Bench also observed that the manner, in which FIRs with serious offences are being taken up, does not inspire confidence. In case the ACB is facing difficulty on account of incompetence to investigate these FIRs, the Court be apprised of the same so that alternative means can be explored to ensure that these cases are brought to logical end at the earliest and not buried under the carpet.The Division Bench also directed GAD to file information sought by the court failing which Secretary GAD will have to appear in person on next date of hearing.It is worthwhile to mention here that, earlier Division Bench had directed General Administration to apprise the Court regarding departmental action taken against Government employees involved in corruption matters and status thereof and if no such action was taken, the reason of that. If had further asked whether any of the officer/official was placed under suspension on account of his involvement in a case under PC Act and if yes, for how long? Whether employees involved in cases for serious offences were granted further promotions and other benefits and at that stage whether factum of registration of FIR against them for serious offences was part of note put up for consideration? How much of these employees are in service and working at which posts and the posts on which they were working when FIR was registered? DB further directed that the court be also apprised of their present place of posting and if any of these employees have retired from service, whether retiral benefits have been provided to them and, for the present information be furnished about cases registered under the Prevention of Corruption Act.When the PIL came-up for hearing, Division Bench observed that vide order dated July 21, 2020, certain information was asked from the respondents as it came to the notice of the court that there are number of FIRs registered for serious offences including under Prevention of Corruption Act, where investigation had not been concluded and Challans not presented in courts for more than a decade. Additionally, information was also asked from the General Administration Department, Government of J&K regarding present status of the employees involved in criminal cases and also the benefits they may have been drawing. In response, earlier status report dated August 21, 2020 was filed which was not exhaustive. More time was sought by the respondents to file a fresh status report. Subsequent thereto, the status report dated September 1, 2020 has been filed. The information as is forthcoming in the aforesaid report is astonishing.DB observed that from 1998 to 2018, there were total 295 cases registered with Anti-Corruption Bureau in J&K and out of these, 31 cases are pending wherein either investigation could not be concluded or Challans could not be presented on account of interim orders passed by this Court.DB further observed that in 35 cases, the matter has been sent to the competent authority for sanction of prosecution for presentation of Challan but the same is lingering on for years together, apparently, in some connivance. In 18 cases, final report has been submitted to the Central Office ACB but they are sitting tight over the matters. In 14 cases, directions have been issued for further reinvestigation but same are pending. In about 2/3rd of cases i.e. 192 out of 295, the investigation is still in progress.Coming to more details, if seen with reference to cases pending in Jammu Region, there are FIRs of the years 2009, 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016, where the matters were referred to the competent authority for sanction of prosecution, but no final decision. Investigation in FIR No. 1/2008 has been completed now and it is claimed that closure report is under preparation and will be produced in the court shortly. Upon this Division Bench observed that one can easily imagine what kind of investigation is possible in a case, which remained under investigation for more than a decade.DB further observed that in number of cases registered way back in 2012-13, the Presiding Officer of Anti-Corruption Bureau Court had issued directions for further investigation more than three years back but still the investigating agency is sitting tight over matter.DB further observed that there are FIRs registered for irregularities and illegalities committed in transfer of land under the Roshni Scheme but investigation has still not concluded. The files apparently move from one office to another and then to the Central Office with different queries like of shuttle cock. Every one knows that shuttle cock has a life and thereafter it is dead and not worth use. In this manner lot of record may be misplaced as Durbar moves also come in between. Idea may be burry these investigations in this fashion, with no body being responsible.DB further observed that information sought from the General Administration Department has not been furnished till date, though it is said to be the custodian of entire record. It may be uncomfortable to furnish information as many of the officers involved in the cases under PC Act may be enjoying plum postings even now and may have been granted all service benefits including promotions during the pendency of investigation. This is also a fact that in many cases the employees remain under suspension for decades with no charge sheet issued and suspension allowance being paid to them. They are finally reinstated because of delays in the processes and are paid all dues without working.DB observed that here we have referred to in brief status of FIRs registered under PC Act. There are other criminal cases also registered for heinous crimes, including under NDPS Act, investigation in which is pending for years. Regarding quality of investigation also this court had made observations in number of cases. For that also answer is required from the investigating agencies concerned.DB further ordered that copy of this order be placed before the Chief Justice with reference to the details of cases pending before the Srinagar and Jammu Wing of this court in which either investigation or presentation of the Challan has been stayed so that the matter could be taken up on priority and disposed of. Judgment of the Supreme Court regarding life of interim orders is also relevant for these cases.
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