Jammu and Kashmir government to act tough on corruption

Srinagar, July 1 (IANS) A day after shunting out many civil servants, the Jammu and Kashmir government on Wednesday said the PDP-BJP alliance is “committed to weed out corruption” and take measures to ensure transparency and efficiency in the state.

“Our state has suffered a lot on account of accountability, corruption and inefficiency. We (Peoples Democratic Party – Bharatiya Janata Party) have taken certain corrective measures, which were set in motion from the day one of our government,” senior minister Naeem Akthar said at a press conference here.

He was talking to reporters a day after PDP-BJP coalition government in the state decided to retire 63 civil servants, terming them as “corrupt and incompetent”.

A five-member committee, headed by the chief secretary, was formed to look for deadwood and inefficient civil servants at different levels in various departments. “And in the first instance we found 63 such officials”, Akhtar said.

The senior minister said included in the list of those retired forcibly are 25 trap cases of the state vigilance commission.

“Eleven cases are of disproportionate assets and 27 are other cases.”

“Prosecution will continue in cases where it is going on, but the state government decided to disband their services to send a clear message that malpractice, corruption and incompetency won’t be tolerated,” he added.

He said the state government also decided to revive State Accountability Service and restore its full strength.

“We are mulling to pass a legislation to raise the age limit of judges and appoint people of integrity who can lead the anti-corruption drive effectively.”

Akhtar, who is also the state’s education minister, said the government had decided to plug loopholes in the proposed recruitment policy, which came under severe criticism from the opposition and civil society groups.

“We had formulated the recruitment policy for fast-tracking certain posts lying vacant and to fill posts in backward and remote areas which remained unserviced,” the minister explained.

“Being open to criticism and suggestions, government received lot of inputs and, accordingly, we have decided to revisit it,” he added.

Akhtar said over 7,000 posts lying vacant in non-gazetted category would now be referred to the state recruitment board and within four months the process of employment would have to be completed by the board.

“Considering its humanitarian angle, instead of proposed seven years, the appointees will be regularised after five years only with pay benefits.”

“But for five years new appointees can’t seek transfer and will have to serve at the place of posting,” he said.

“For gazetted posts, the state Public Service Commission will be restored to its full constitutional strength,” he said.

Replying to a question about allegations that “big fish” were being saved from the net, Akhtar said: “None is above the law. By issuing a list we have tried to send a message and a warning shot, and more names are on the way.”

On allegations that no action has been taken against the police officials involved in human rights abuse and corrupt practices, he said the list contained names of five police officials. “However, they are said to be lower rank officials.”

The senior minister agreed that prosecution rate in the state was low in corruption cases. “There will be no political pressure and no one will be defended, come what may.”

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