14 Politicians Face Graft Charges17 October 2010
Srinagar: As many as 14 politicians, including two Congress ministers in the Omar Abdullah-led government and nine former ministers, are facing cases of corruption or misuse of power in Jammu and Kashmir’s defunct State Accountability Commission (SAC). However, they are yet to face the law as eight of them have obtained stay on proceedings from the High Court, while complaints against others are pending as the state Government has not been able to appoint the Chairman and the members of the commission, official sources said. There are a total of eighteen complaints against them. Two complaints each have been registered before the commission against Public Health Engineering Minister Taj Mohiuddin, Education Minister Peerzada Muhammad Sayeed (both from Congress) and former Agriculture Minister and opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) leader Abdul Aziz Zargar, they said. Other Congress politicians who have complaints pending against them include former Deputy Chief Minister Mangat Ram Sharma, his colleague in Mufti Mohammad Sayeed-led council of ministers Suman Lata Bhagat, former ministers Ramesh Kumar and Abdul Majid Wani, they said. Among these leaders, only Wani is a member of the current Legislative Assembly. Congress Legislature Party leader in the state Assembly Chaudhry Muhammad Aslam is facing charges of encroaching over 50 hectares of state land in Surankote area of Poonch district, the sources said. The other former ministers facing corruption charges in the SAC include PDP leaders Tariq Hamid Karra and Abdul Gaffar Sofi, who is a sitting MLA from Homshalibugh, they said. Former ministers Hakim Muhammad Yasin and Sofi Ghulam Mohiuddin, both part of the erstwhile Peoples’ Democratic Front (PDF), also face charges of corruption during their tenure as ministers in the PDP-Congress coalition government, the sources added. The ruling National Conference has cases of corruption pending against a sitting MLA and a former MLA. Rachpal Singh, sitting MLA from Kalakote, is accused of sheltering criminals involved in a theft case, while Ghulam Mohiuddin Mir (ex-MLA Pulwama) has been accused of accepting a bribe of Rs 70,000 in lieu of providing a government job to the complainant. Although eight of the politicians have obtained stay on proceedings from the High Court, they would not have faced the commission as it is headless and without any members for more than 18 months now, the sources said. The State Government had listed rejuvenation of the SAC among its priorities but has not been able to do so due to varied reasons. The selection committee had recommended names of two retired High Court judges - Justices Bashir Ahmad Kirmani and Y P Nargotra - as members of the commission to Governor N N Vohra but he returned the panel asking the committee to reconsider it. The selection committee, which includes the Chief Minister, the Assembly Speaker, and leader of opposition as members, has not been able to meet after that due to non-availability of PDP president Mehbooba Mufti.