The Himachal Pradesh High Court has asked the Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled state government to place on record the list of its officials facing corruption and other charges.
Taking note of the government reinstating officials against whom investigations under the Prevention of Corruption Act are on, a division bench of Chief Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Kuldip Singh has asked the government to furnish a list of the tainted officials Wednesday.
‘A complete list of the tainted officials shall be furnished against whom investigations are in progress and also the reinstated officers against whom cases were under investigations under the Prevention of Corruption Act,’ the judges said in a ruling given Thursday.
They also directed the government to inform the court ‘what steps it has taken to expedite the trial or investigation against such officers and explain if the government has applied its mind before passing the order of reinstatement of such officers’.
The court observed that the government in its affidavit had said that it was committed to eradicating corruption.
‘On the other hand, the government is reinstating such officers who were caught red-handed by the vigilance department or any other state or central agency,’ the judges said.
A senior official of the vigilance and anti-corruption bureau told IANS that the it registered 271 cases against government officials and functionaries from January 2008 to Jan 31, 2010.
He said that charge sheets have been filed in various courts against 65 people and seven have been convicted during this period.
The prominent officials who were facing charges but have been reinstated are Sher Singh – former drugs controller, Subhash Ahluwalia – principal private secretary to former chief minister Virbhadra Singh, and Sanjay Gupta – former General Industries Corporation (GIC) managing director.
Ahluwalia, a 1989 batch IAS officer, was arrested by the vigilance bureau in October 2008 on charges of illegally amassing wealth disproportionate to his known sources of income by misusing his position.
IAS officer Gupta was arrested by vigilance sleuths in July 2009 on charges of corruption and possessing an unaccounted Rs.2 lakh in cash. He was booked for irregularities earlier as well in Kinnaur district.
Similarly, Drugs Controller Sher Singh was caught red-handed while accepting a bribe of Rs.5 lakh in the Baddi-Barotiwala industrial belt.
Interestingly, the high court order seeking details on tainted officers came on the plea of Sher Singh, who is demanding a stay on the departmental proceedings against him.
He pleaded that the departmental inquiry and the criminal trial could not run simultaneously.