Jammu: The High Court has dismissed former deputy chief minister Mangat Ram Sharma’s plea against the State Accountability Commission’s order, directing a regular enquiry against him and two former secretaries in the alleged job scam in Khadi & Village Industries Board (KVIB).
On October 26, 2007, the State Accountability Commission (SAC) had ordered probe against Sharma, then-chairman of KVIB, and two secretaries of the board—JP Singh and RC Sharma— following allegations that they made appointments in contravention of the service regulations of J&K KVIB.
While dismissing their plea, a division bench of Justices Muzaffar Hussain Attar and Tashi Rabstan observed that SAC has to bring the regular enquiry to its logical conclusion in accordance with the law.
It also vacated interim directions including a stay order on November 27, 2007.
The court passed the directions after hearing plea by Sharma’s counsel and that of the complainant and the SAC.
Senior Advocate B S Salathia, appearing for Sharma, submitted that the allegations against his client were vague and that he was a long-standing public personality who has served the state in various capacities with utmost dedication and discharged his duties in accordance with the law.
Slathia said regular enquiry by SAC would adversely affect the respect earned by the former deputy chief minister, even as he maintained that Sharma had followed regulations while making the appointments in KVIB.
Salathia also submitted that the regular enquiry was initiated by SAC without offering Sharma any opportunity to be heard.
On the other hand, Advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed, appearing for the complainant before SAC Sajjad Majid, invited the court’s attention to various appointment orders issued by then-secretaries of KVIB, RC Sharma and JP Singh, on the approval granted by Sharma.
He submitted that no procedure was followed while making appointments and instead “pick and choose method” was adopted to confer undue benefit to the blue eyed persons and the favorites of the then-deputy chief minister.
He also submitted that Sharma and the secretaries abused their official position and also the mandate of Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India as no opportunity was afforded to the public at large to respond against the vacant posts in KVIB.
Advocate Rahul Pant, representing the SAC, submitted that Sharma has prima facie failed to comply with the provisions of law and complaint does disclose the allegations as defined in Section 2(3) of J&K Accountability Commission Act, 2002 for initiation of regular enquiry against him.
He submitted that the regular enquiry is at its threshold stage and it would not in any manner whatsoever indict Sharma.
“It cannot be said at this stage that he has committed any misfeasance in office. His reputation as such has not been adversely affected,” Pant added.