Wednesday, January 22, 2020

J&K ‘Anti-Corruption’ babus love delivering sermons, doing little

 Defunct SVC’s defunct website

Pallavi Sareen

Jammu, Jan 9: In times of Digital India, not only commission but even the website of Jammu and Kashmir State Vigilance Commission (SVC) is defunct, carries ragtag information and is in complete contrast to what the Commission has recommended for all govt departments in J&K.

Comply with Right to Information, put up all the relevant information on the official website and keep updating the website regularly. This is what SVC had asked government departments, commissions and corporations to do. But a look at the website of the SVC, www.jksvc.gov.in, raises questions on commission sermonizing others while doing little itself for transparency and accountability.

Months before the commission became defunct without its members on Oct 31, the landlines of the commission virtually became non-operational. And even though Right To Information Act mandates that all government departments and organizations must update all their important details on the website, J&K State Vigilance Commission has nothing important on its website.

While the transparency watchdog established to fight corruption made recommendations to govt departments and commissions to update all important information about its functioning on their website, its own website stands outdated.

Seeing the website, it can be observed that it exists only to create an illusion of transparency to befool the common man as the commission in its seven years of existence since 2013 did not even update its annual report for the public to see.

Even before Jammu & Kashmir State Vigilance Commission was made powerless by the state government in April 2019 through repealing of SVC Rules, 2013 and formation of New SVC Rules, 2019, the commission’s website breathed its last. That can be observed from the Office Memorandum which was the last Order/Circular updated on 11th April 2018. It seems that no new order was passed after it or it wasn’t considered necessary to make people aware of such orders.

Jammu Kashmir State Vigilance Commission was constituted to inquire or cause inquiries into offences alleged to have been committed under J&K PCA 2006. But if one were to inquire about the functioning of the commission over the years of its existence, only one important order regarding the dismissal of a complaint into an allegation of corruption is made public knowledge.

A layman would wonder whether the commission had done what it was constituted for and if so, why hide it from the public eye? The weekly cause list before the Division Bench was to be highlighted on the website but the entire section remains blank. Even though the Acts governing the commission are available on the website, the new SVC Rules 2019 are not available while the repealed J&K Vigilance Commission Rules, 2013 have been put up.

The last SRO updated on the website was on March 2, 2019 so it seems that after April, the digital presence of the commission was completely abandoned. But even before that, ease of information for the public was never a priority for the commission. The tenures of the latest members were not mentioned on the website. The links leading to Anti-corruption Bureau and Central Bureau of Investigation were broken but never changed.

“During my tenure, it used to be an interactive website. We used to update details about the departmental meetings, the annual reports and people even filed their complaints online. But I don’t understand why they would have deleted all that. I left the commission in 2017 and now the commission itself is member-less, so I guess that can be one of the reasons,” Kuldeep Khoda, first Chief Vigilance Commissioner of J&K SVC told Straight Line. Mr P.L Gupta, the last CVC to hold office, however, did not respond to calls.

 

 

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