Hushing up of Rajouri Development Authority Scam by SVO Court directs...

Hushing up of Rajouri Development Authority Scam by SVO Court directs GAD to hold regular inquiry

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Jammu, Oct 26, CNS: A Division Bench of the State High Court comprising Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur and Justice Sanjeev Kumar in the open court directed Commissioner/Secretary to Govt. of J&K, General Administration Department (GAD) to appoint a senior IAS Officer as Enquiry Officer to hold a Regular Departmental Enquiry against Mohammad Javed Khan (IAS) the then Chief Executive Officer, Rajouri Development Authority and presently Excise Commissioner J&K. The Division Bench further directed that the officer to be nominated must be senior to Mohammad Javed Khan in IAS Cadre. The Division Bench further allowed three weeks time to the GAD to nominate the Enquiry Officer.

After hearing Advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed with Advocates Rahul Raina and Supriya Chouhan appearing for the PIL whereas Senior AAG Seema Khajooria Shekhar for the GAD, the Division Bench observed that since Mohammad Javed Khan has been inducted into IAS as such Tourism Department cannot hold an enquiry against the IAS Officer and accordingly the Division Bench directed the General Administration Department to nominate a senior IAS Officer to hold the enquiry against the delinquent officer Mohammad Javed Khan.

When this PIL came up for hearing, Advocate S.S. Ahmed invited the attention of the Division Bench towards the latest status report filed by GAD wherein it has been stated that the GAD has initiated the process for holding enquiry and in this regard, a proposal has been submitted to the competent authority for approving appointment of some senior IAS officer as enquiry officer to hold a Regular Departmental Enquiry against Mohammad Javed Khan (IAS), the then CEO Rajouri Development Authority and presently posted as Excise Commissioner, J&K.

Advocate S.S. Ahmed vociferously argued that all out attempt is being made to shield the delinquent IAS Officer and the competent authority (Hon’ble Chief Minister as Minister Incharge Tourism Department) has directed that the Tourism Department should complete the Regular Departmental Action/Enquiry in the first instance.

Advocate S.S. Ahmed further submitted by referring to Division Bench order dated May, 2, 2016 when the GAD through its status report apprised the Division Bench that the enquiry officer earlier appointed i.e. Director Tourism, Jammu had expressed his inability to conduct an enquiry into the matter as Mohammad Javed Khan the then CEO, RDA is senior to him and has been inducted into IAS. It was also divulged in the said status report that the Tourism Department has already referred the matter to the GAD for appointment of a new enquiry officer and on the said date the Learned Advocate General made a statement that a new enquiry officer would be appointed within 3 weeks.

Advocate S.S. Ahmed further invited the attention of the Division Bench towards the order dated May, 17, 2017 when Division Bench headed by Justice Alok Aradhe directed the GAD to conclude the departmental enquiry against Mohammad Javed Khan (IAS) within a period of 4 months. Advocate S.S. Ahmed further referred to order dated October, 4, 2017 when Division Bench headed by Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur expressed displeasure against the conduct of Commissioner/Secretary to Govt. of J&K, Tourism Department for not cooperating with the GAD and for not furnishing comments over the response filed by delinquent officer Mohammad Javed Khan.

At this stage Advocate S.S. Ahmed also submitted that when departmental enquiry was already pending, there was no need for holding fresh enquiry through Tourism Department particularly when the delinquent officer is an IAS Officer.

Confronted with this situation, Senior AAG Seema Khajooria Shekhar submitted that earlier enquiry was a preliminary enquiry and now the Government has decided to hold a Regular Departmental Enquiry against the delinquent IAS Officer.

While rebutting the submissions of Senior AAG, Advocate S.S. Ahmed further submitted that in view of the decision to hold Regular Departmental Enquiry against the delinquent IAS Officer, he is required to be shifted from the post of Excise Commissioner, J&K to a non-sensitive post in view of the law laid down by the Apex Court of the Country in case titled Union of India V/s K.V. Jankiraman wherein the Apex Court has ruled that the persons facing serious allegations of corruption/abuse of official position should not be allowed to occupy public dealing posts. Advocate Ahmed further submitted that a very wrong signal is going to the public at large when tainted officers like incumbent Excise Commissioner, J&K, are posted at sensitive positions. Advocate Ahmed referred the earlier orders passed by the Division Bench headed by then Chief Justice M.M. Kumar when the Chairman of J&K Board of School Education was removed from the coveted post owing to the pendency of Departmental Inquiries against him. He sought reply of the GAD in the next status report pertaining to this. Advocate S.S. Ahmed also submitted that his submissions to this regard be recorded in today’s order so that the Government is made to disclose its stand in this regard. However the Division Bench headed by Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur remarked in the open court, “this issue will be examined later”.

After considering the submissions of both the sides, the Division Bench comprising Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur and Justice Sanjeev Kumar directed Commissioner/Secretary to Govt. of J&K, General Administration Department (GAD) to appoint a senior IAS Officer as Enquiry Officer to hold a Regular Departmental Enquiry against Mohammad Javed Khan (IAS) the then Chief Executive Officer, Rajouri Development Authority and presently Excise Commissioner J&K. The Division Bench further directed that the officer to be nominated must be senior to Mohammad Javed Khan in IAS Cadre. The Division Bench further allowed three weeks time to the GAD to nominate the Enquiry Officer.

Looking into the importance of the matter the Division Bench directed the Registry to list this matter after three weeks. (CNS)