Ex. Justice became Chairperson of the three-member SAC for Five years in October 2015 but simultaneously continues to serve as Arbitrator.
Can Chairman of Jammu and Kashmir State Accountability Commission (SAC), State’s top anti-corruption body “comparable to Lokpal”, continue to serve as the arbitrator and charge fee?
Question was asked of Justice B A Khan, Former Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir High Court and serving SAC Chairperson, this February in Karbala (Jor Bagh) Land Dispute case in New Delhi.
He is yet to rule on the matter. According to Section 5,Jammu and Kashmir Accountability Commission Act 2002, Chairperson and the members “shall not hold any office of the trust or profit or be connected with any political party or carry on any business or practise any profession”.
Act stipulates that if one is practising any profession before entering office of Chairperson, one must cease to do so. Justice (retired) Khan was sworn in as Chairperson of three-member SAC for five years in October 2015 but continues to serve as arbitrator.
It is learnt that Justice Khan is presently arbitrating in a number of legal disputes, including Karbala case. Justice Khan did not respond to the several emails and the phone calls and his office said he would be “unavailable for some time”.
Several emails and phone calls to the offices of Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and State Chief Secretary B B Vyas, asking if Justice Khan obtained any No Objection Certificate (NOC) and, if he did, under which clause of 2002 Act was it issued, remained unanswered.
Maintaining that the Commission’s Office was not aware of such activity, if any, of its Chairperson, SAC Member Justice (retired) J P Singh said that “conducting of arbitration would amount to practising of profession in terms of Section 5, 2002 Act which has no provision that empowers any authority, including State Government, to provide NOC to a Chairperson or member of SAC to continue as the arbitrator and earn fee.
In such a scenario, Justice Singh stated that 2002 Act “also disables and render ineligible the SAC Chairperson or members to seek reappointment in SAC or accept any other assignment or the appointment to be made by Governor or any further employment of any other office of profit in the Government of India or any state government.”
Justice (retired) Bashir A Kirmani, other member of SAC, did not respond to the email queries.
With inputs from Indian Express