The offences of corruption and bribery against Government Employees were initially covered only under the provisions of Ranbir Penal Code, 1989 Bikrami (1932 A.D). Up to 1949 A.D. cases in this behalf were registered and investigated by Local Police.
After the enactment of J&K Prevention of Corruption Act, 2006 Bikrami (1949 AD), a separate wing called “Anti-Corruption Wing” was formed in the State Crime Branch for conducting the investigation of cases covered under Prevention of Corruption Act. However, in 1962 a separate organization, called “Anti-Corruption Organization” was created to investigate all cases relating to bribery and corruption.
With the passage of time, various Acts were enacted to deal effectively with the menace of corruption. Most important among those enactments were, Prevention of Corruption Laws (amendment) Act, 1983 A.D. by virtue of which the “Anti-Corruption Organization” was renamed as “State Vigilance Organization”, and J&K Public Men and Public Servants Declaration of Assets and Other Provisions Act, 1983 A.D. By virtue of this Act, the elected representatives of various public bodies, MLAs and Ministers were brought under the purview of Corruption Laws and filing of Annual Property Returns was made mandatory for all public servants and public men. Failure to do so was made an offence under P.C. Act, 2006 Bikrami (1949 A.D.).
To streamline the investigations, two Police Stations were set up, one at Jammu and another at Srinagar vide SRO 229 of 1976 dated 23.4.1976. These Police Stations take cognizance of offences under P.C.Act, 2006 Bikrami (1949 A.D.).
· Laws enforced by State Vigilance Organization.
Offences related to corruption envisaged in Ranbir Penal Code (RPC), 1989 Bikrami (1932 A.D), which is substantive penal law for J&K, equivalent to Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Structure of Vigilance Organisation.
The State Vigilance Organisation is headed by the Director of Vigilance. The Director of Vigilance is assisted by an Inspector General, Deputy Inspector General and two Assistant Inspector Generals. The legal advice to the Director of Vigilance is tendered by the Director of Prosecution.
Three provinces of J&K viz Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh are covered by six territorial branches of the state vigilance organization, with a Supdt. of Police as branch incharge. The branch SP is assisted by a staff comprising of DySsP, Inspectors and Constables for vigilance and anti-corruption work. The technical staff from Engineering Department is also posted with Jammu and Srinagar branches.
State Vigilance Organization takes cognizance of offences of corruption and bribery committed in any part of the State by public men and public servants.
The investigation of corruption cases can be conducted by an officer of Vigilance Organisation of and above the rank of Sub-Inspector under an authorization in writing by an officer of State Vigilance Organization not below the rank of Dy.SP.
Two Special Courts at Srinagar and two at Jammu try cases of corruption investigated by the State Vigilance Organisation. The prosecution officers of the rank of Senior Prosecuting Officers and above of the vigilance organization are designated as Public Prosecutors.
· Restructuring of Vigilance Organisation
In the Vigilance Organisation, there were four wings viz Jammu wing, Kashmir wing, Central wing and Headquarter wing. In both Jammu and Kashmir wings two Supdts. of Police were posted to supervise the cases against Gazatted Officers and Non-Gazetted Officials respectively. The Central Wing was primarily looking after cases of inter provincial nature. The Headquarter wing was charged with responsibility of investigating the cases of disproportionate assets.
Efforts were undertaken to reorganize and reorient the available resources of the State Vigilance Organisation (SVO) to maximize its utilization and obtain best possible results. Towards this, a study of internal working was undertaken which revealed that:-
a) There were 300 FIR cases under active investigation in the State Vigilance Organisation. Of these less than 50% were based in Jammu and Srinagar Districts. A little over 50% were based in the remaining Mufasil Districts.
b) A further analysis indicated that proper attention was not being given to cases and other areas of corruption in Mufasil Districts where there is a lot of scope for exploitation by corrupt elements.
c) With a view to give adequate attention to the Mufasil Districts, re-structuring of the Vigilance Organisation has been done. The following seven territorial branches now operate in the State Vigilance Organisation :-
In this manner, Vigilance Organization is now in a position to give proper and effective attention to all areas.
A new Policy Division was created at the Headquarters under the AIG (Policy). Its functions include internal Vigilance, policy planning, monitoring of targets, liaison and coordination.
· Receipt of complaints and their disposal.
A very elaborate system of scrutiny of complaints is in place in order to ensure that innocent officers are not harassed while the corrupt ones are brought to book. Every complaint received in State Vigilance Organisation is examined meticulously with respect to its contents and their verifiability. All the complaints are put up to the Commissioner of Vigilance, for his decision. The complaint is disposed off by one of the following:-
01- Registration of FIR
02- Holding of a Preliminary Enquiry
03- Ordering a Joint Surprise Check
04- An enquiry by the Departmental Vigilance Officer.
05- Secret Verification by Vigilance Organisation.
06- Consign to records if no verifiable specifics are mentioned.
The Commissioner of Vigilance authorizes registration of FIRs/PEs and also initiates Secret Verifications, Surprise Checks and Verifications through Departmental Vigilance Officers (DVOs).
· Registration of Vigilance Cases
State Vigilance Organisation registers cases under J&K Prevention of Corruption Act, 2006 Bikrami (i.e 1949 A.D), J&K Public Men and Public Servants Declaration of Assets and Other Provisions Act, 1983 A.D and corresponding provisions of RPC (section 161 to 165-A, 167-A). The Vigilance cases are registered in the two Police Stations, P/S VOK and P/S VOJ which have come into being since 1976. SSP Vigilance (SLK) branch and SSP Vigilance (Jammu) branch are functioning as In-charge for these two Police Stations. Vigilance cases are registered only under the approval of the Commissioner of Vigilance. In trap cases the branch SSPs are authorized to register the case after taking verbal approval of the Commissioner of Vigilance.
The investigation of cases in State Vigilance Organization is carried out in a thorough manner and strenuous efforts are put to collect evidence. After completion of the investigation, the evidence is analyzed by different levels of supervisory officers and law officers. Final investigation report is then sent to the Government for obtaining sanction for prosecution. In cases where the evidence collected may not stand Judicial scrutiny, but is found enough on the basis of the preponderance of evidence, these are recommended for Regular Departmental Action for misconduct under appropriate sections of the relevant conduct rules.
· Preliminary Enquiries.
The Vigilance Organization also takes up Preliminary Enquiries. This is done when a complaint, disclosing misconduct on the part of a public servant, needs certain amount of verification to ascertain whether a prima-facie offence has been committed.
· Joint Surprise Checks
A Joint Surprise Check is authorized only when reasonable information of malpractices is received. It is executed jointly by officers of SVO and the concerned department, mostly the Departmental Vigilance Officers to check/ prevent corrupt practices. During the Joint Surprise Check, a joint inspection of the records, spot verification and examination of works is carried out. Joint Surprise Checks have led to detection of various procedural violations and real time corrupt practices. It has become an important tool of preventive vigilance. In most of the cases, results of Joint Surprise Checks are referred to the Administrative Department for initiating Regular Departmental Action. In some cases Joint Surprise Checks have resulted in registration of Preliminary Enquiries / FIRs.
· Secret Verifications.
Secret Verifications are also conducted by State Vigilance Organization. Such Verifications are initiated mostly on complaints relating to disproportionate assets of a Government Servant. The details of disproportionate assets are probed in a secret manner before formal case is registered in this regard.
· Verification through Departmental Vigilance Officers (DVO)
Many complaints are also referred to the Departmental Vigilance Officers for conducting verification. The report of Departmental Vigilance Officer is analyzed in the Vigilance Organization to initiate appropriate action.
· Emphasis on Preventive Vigilance.
The concept of Preventive Vigilance was vigorously pursued by the State Vigilance Organisation. To this effect, concept of “Departmental Vigilance Officer” and “Joint Surprise Check” was institutionalized. The aspect of preventive vigilance was given a push start with the issue of a Circular GAD-12 of 2003 dated 26.05.2003 by the State Government, which deals with the Programme of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Work. Thirteen Departments of the State Government were identified as target Departments for intensive Anti-Corruption work.
This programme also envisages preparation of agreed list of corrupt officials, identification of points and places of corruption, identification of unscrupulous contractors, middlemen and agents in various Departments and their immediate surveillance. Conduct of Joint Surprise Checks has proved very effective in this regard. .
Jammu & Kashmir State