The Himachal Pradesh High Court has asked the state government to clarify its stand on the posting of tainted officers occupying crucial posts.
Taking note of officers of doubtful integrity being placed in sensitive posts by the government, a division bench of Chief Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice V.K. Sharma asked the chief secretary to file an affidavit.
"The chief secretary (Rajwant Sandhu) is to state as to whether posting of such officers of doubtful integrity and particularly those officers, who have actually been found guilty and whose cases are still under investigation, or are facing the trial and yet are posted on sensitive posts in the field where public dealing is involved," the bench held.
They also directed the government to inform the court as to "how many officers who have been caught red-handed accepting bribe and were yet reinstated in service and posted in sensitive posts".
The court observed that the government, in its affidavit, had said that it was committed to zero tolerance on corruption, and whether the same is in tune with the Vigilance Manual of HP government. However, it has asked the government "whether it's required or at least advisable to have clearance of the vigilance bureau at the time of review/revocation of suspension of officers involved in corruption".
The Director General of Police, who had filed an affidavit on the direction of the High Court earlier, cited number of reasons for delay in completing the investigation and prosecution in vigilance cases. The affidavit said the delay in getting report from the FSL (Forensic Science Laboratory) is owing to non-availability of the approved valuer, inadequacy of staff and other infra-structural facilities in the vigilance wing and the time taken by the Government in granting or refusing the sanction.
The affidavit of the Director General of Police indicated that the Government does not seek the opinion/clearance of police/vigilance before considering the cases for revocation of suspension of officers involved in the cases of corruption, which are pending investigation/trial.
The court directed the Chief Secretary to state as to whether there is any direction from the Government of India to set up a Vigilance Commission.
“And whether the State of Himachal Pradesh has taken any action in the matter so that transparency and probity in vigilance cases can be more effectively ensured. The Chief Secretary will also indicate in the affidavit whether such a Commission has been set up in other states,’’ the Court observed.
The high court order seeking details of tainted officers ironically comes on the plea of Sher Singh, who was caught red handed while accepting Rs 5 lakh bribe. Singh is demanding a stay on the departmental proceedings against him. He pleaded that the departmental inquiry and a criminal trial could not run simultaneously.