No Regional Bias In War Against Corruption: Azad
24 August 2007
The Daily Excelsior
Srinagar: Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad today called for social sanction against people responsible for inducement of corruption and stressed for a legislation to deal with elements inducing the menace in the society. Replying to a discussion on corruption in the Legislative Assembly here this evening, he said that his Government had launched an all out war against corrupt officials but to take the fight to logical conclusion there was need of some social sanction and legal deterrent against those members of the society who abetted and promoted corruption. 'Greed for wealth among people was ever increasing and there was a mad rush for acquiring assets and affluence by whatever means. The ostentatious life style and amassing of money was responsible for corruption and several other social evils. Unfortunately instead of isolating and boycotting such people at societal level they were most sought after and respected,' he regretted. The Chief Minister agreed with a member who suggested that law should be enacted to check tendencies of unbridled greed for wealth. 'While the Government officials who indulge in corruption would not be spared there was need to deal with the people who stir up the hunger of ill-gotten money among the officials,' he said adding he was encouraged with mood of the House against corruption and believed that such legislation could be possible and the society as a whole should be cleaned of this scourge. While, dwelling on measures taken by his Government in the war against corruption, Mr Azad sought full support of members of the society including judiciary, media, political parties, legislators and opinion makers to cleanse the society of this cancer. He stressed the need to bring attitudinal change and become proactive against corruption even as he regarded a clean political system imperative for the success in this regard. He said the day politicians stopped asking for corrupt officials to be posted in their constituencies and instead demand honest and upright people the corruption would automatically come down. He said by asking for corrupt officials, politicians were responsible to encourage corruption. The Chief Minister dismissed any impression of witch hunting in his war against corruption and presented figures to show that there was no regional bias in the State Vigilance Organisation's drive. He said in non-trap cases initiated by the State Vigilance Organisation, the figure in Kashmir and Jammu was almost equal. He said against 54 non-trap cases in Kashmir, 46 were initiated in Jammu. In the trap cases where the Organisation initiates action only after some member of the society makes a complaint against an official that he or she was demanding bribe from him, the SVO has initiated cases against 89 officials in Kashmir and 23 in Jammu. He congratulated people of the Valley for coming forward against corruption and wondered if it could be termed as a regional disparity. He said between 1990 and 1996 as many as 1000 cases were registered in the State out of which 700 were registered in Jammu alone. He said there was no question of region and religion in so far as fighting corruption was concerned. He urged politicians not to bring vote politics into this area. The Chief Minister said that between 1990 and 1996 when there was militancy and no accountability and monitoring mechanism in the absence of elected representatives and officers not being able to move out, the incidence of corruption was on the rise and in many cases officials would draw fictitious bills at homes without executing works. He said the subsequent Governments took cognizance of corruption and tried to check it. However, he gave figures to show that during his tenure the conviction rate was higher than the previous ones. He said from 1996 to 2002, as many as 786 cases were registered out of which 237 were challaned and 66 % cases were not proved. Between 2002 and 2005, he said 165 cases were registered, 93 challaned and 27% not proved. Against this, he said 147 cases were registered during his time and only 4 % were not proved. The Chief Minister said that 146 public servants were caught red handed while accepting bribe from November 1, 2002 to August 10, 2007. He said 38 cases were registered against tainted officers for possessing disproportionate assets during the period. He said senior officers figured in the list of cases under investigation. He said that the Prevention of Corruption Act was amended by his Government to empower SVO to attach, during investigation, property acquired by an accused public servant through corrupt means. He described it as a historic measure and said that action has been taken against several corrupt public servants and property of 9 of them valued at Rs. 3.48 crores attached under the amended act. He said investigation of property in 30 cases was going on. He said the institution of internal vigilance has been strengthened by nominating Departmental Vigilance Officers (DVOs) in different departments. He said more than 400 joint surprise checks have been conducted so far by the SVO in association with DVOs. Mr Azad said that the institution of Additional District Development Commissioners has been created to inspect, review and closely monitor the progress of implementation of the developmental schemes. He said this initiative has been well received by the general public and was proving an effective monitoring tool. He asked the legislators to monitor development works in their respective areas and said that the Government had ordered conspicuous display of details of development works at district, tehsil and block level to make general public aware of infrastructure development in their areas. He said the Chief Minister's Vigilance medal for displaying conspicuous and exemplary courage in exposing corruption and creating awareness against corrupt practices has been instituted. He said Chief Minister's gold medal for integrity and meritorious public service has been instituted to honour the public servants who have rendered extra- ordinary public service or shown outstanding achievements in the discharge of their duties and demonstrated exceptional integrity and honesty. He said five officers were honoured on the Independence Day last year and six officers this year. The Chief Minister said that the Right to Information Act applicable in Jammu & Kashmir did not have enough teeth and his Government was considering applying the Central Right to Information Act. Earlier, initiating the discussion on corruption in the Assembly, Leader of Opposition Abdul Rahim Rather said that any corrupt society is devoid of spiritual or ethical spirit and added that by all means time has come when a whole scale war on corruption is required to be launched. Saying that 'example is better than precept' Mr. Rather asserted that people whether from Legislature or executive have to present an example before others as having 'clean image' and prove to be role models for other elements of the society including Government employees and agencies. G. A. Mir while discussing threadbare what corruption means said that before calling anybody corrupt investigation from all sources is required to be made. He said that the institutions directly involved in curbing the corruption must be strengthened and upgraded. Dr Mehboob Baig while appreciating the sincere, integrated and honest intensions of the Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad for combating corruption said that the results as shown are not satisfactory. He stressed on adopting a non-partisan approach in the war on corruption. Abdul Rehman Veeri said that corruption is a multi-dimensional issue which needs to be tackled on all fronts. He said that this menace has eaten into the vitals of our society and if left unchecked the future of our country and State will be very dark. Saying that education can serve as a panacea for the ills of corruption, Mr Veeri said that an internal reform for every individual is required. He said that Government should come up with a revolutionary law that should put a ceiling on property of every citizen. Ali Mohammad Sagar said that the investigating agencies should adopt a time frame policy for disposing of the cases against corrupt elements. He also offered his party's full cooperation for curbing the menace of corruption. Dr Manohar Lal, Gharu Ram, Nazir Gurezi, Mir Saifullah, Abdul Majid Wani, Balwant Singh Mankotia, Sharief-ud-Din Shariq, Mian Altaf Ahmad and Usman Majid also participated in the discussion and lauded the measures of the Government for eliminating corrupt elements and wiping out the menace of corruption. The members gave valuable suggestions for intensifying the drive against corruption in the State.