Himachal High Court questions governments resolve about zero toleration to corruption

Shimla: Questioning the government’s resolve about zero toleration to corruption, the Himachal High Court has asked the chief secretary to under oath file an affidavit whether officers of doubtful integrity were posted in sensitive posts that defeat the governments’ commitment.

A division bench consisting of Chief Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice VK Sharma passed the order on Thursday in a case related to Sher Singh, an assistant controller of drugs, who after being allegedly caught red-handed taking a cash bribe was suspended and pending trial has been reinstated.

The court also asked the chief secretary to submit a list of officers who had been caught red handed accepting bribes and yet had been reinstated in service and posts to sensitive posts, where they were public dealing was involved while investigation or trial was in progress.

The court sought the chief secretary’s affidavit after taking on record an affidavit from the Director General of Police (DGP), which detailed a list of officers with doubtful integrity with their current place of posting.

The judges also sought to know whether a clearance from police was sought before revocation of suspension orders of officers involved in cases under Prevention of Corruption Act and whether posting of tainted officials in sensitive posts were in tune with the state governments vigilance manual.

In his affidavit the DGP cites reasons for delays in investigation and prosecution of vigilance cases as, governments delays in granting prosecution sanction, at times even refusing prosecution sanction, shortage of investigating officers and delay in setting up a FSL lab.

The High Court has also asked the government whether there was an direction from the central government to set up a vigilance commission and had the state government done anything about it so that probity in vigilance case could be more effectively ensured.

With the petitioner expressing reservations about the list furnished by DGP as incomplete saying that names of certain officers, who had been caught red handed by the vigilance and convicted but were yet continuing in service and were not included in the list, the court directed the petitioner to file an affidavit indicating the names of such officers. Next hearing of the case has been listed for 30th December.

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