SAC Starts Contempt Proceedings Against Taj

SAC Starts Contempt Proceedings Against Taj

24 December 2012
Rising Kashmir
Syed Amjad Shah

Jammu: The State Accountability Commission (SAC) Monday started contempt proceedings against senior Congress leader and PHE Minister Taj-Mohi-ud-Din for issuing ‘false and misleading statement’ that he was given clean chit by the Commission and Vigilance Organisation in the forest land grab case. As per SAC directions, Taj and his lawyer Shah Mohammad Choudhary personally appeared before full bench of Commission comprising Justice Y P Nargorta and Justice Hakim Imtiyaz Hussain here today. Sources said PHE Minister told the commission that he had not issued any handout to press last month claiming that SAC in September 2005 and State Vigilance Organisation (SVO) in 2011 had conveyed to government that there is no forest land grab case against him and given clean chit to him. “The statement given by Taj appeared to be ‘false and misleading’. Therefore, a case for initiating contempt proceedings under Jammu and Kashmir Contempt of Courts Act 1997 is made out against the Minister,” the Commission said in its judgment, which was given after the hearing. “We therefore put the respondent (Taj Mohi-ud-Din) on notice for committing contempt of the SAC and direct him to file his statement of defence, if any, by next date of hearing,” the judgement reads. The next date of hearing of the case has been fixed on January 4, 2013. The Commission said it would request J&K Advocate General to appear in the case on behalf of the State for assisting the commission in prosecution of the matter. Earlier, after hearing Taj’s lawyer, SAC had observed that the Commission was not impressed with reply of the minister that some newspapers had carried a news item mentioning that residents of Sedow, Shopian had met the then Chairperson of the Commission Justice R P Sethi. “The minister could not have validly and legally assumed that a complaint had been in fact entertained,” SAC judgment reads. It said before arriving at such a conclusion, the minister ought to have verified the facts from the records of the commission. “It appears that his (Taj’s) statement appears to be false and misleading”. Taj was put on notice by SAC to show cause as to why contempt proceedings in terms of Jammu and Kashmir Contempt of Courts Act 1997 may not be initiated against him for having issued a statement published in daily newspapers that Commission in 2005 had looked into the matter and conveyed to the government that there was no forest land grab charges against him. “The minister’s statement was prima facts found to be false,” SAC said. Taj had also appeared in person before the commission on December 17, 2012. The minister had submitted some documents to support his claim that he has not issued any statement to media. He had claimed that no hand-out had been issued to the press but a semi-official letter was addressed to Forest Minister Mian Altaf requesting him for constitution of a committee of Revenue-forest department’s officers to demarcate the land in village Sedow of Shopian. Later, the commission had reserved pronouncement of its ruling for December 24. In a separate petition before the SAC, Taj is facing charges of having illegally grabbed 14 kanals of forest land in Sedow-Aharbal, Shopian. Taj is already been in duck as two legislators – PDP’s MLC Murtaza Khan and JKNPP MLC Syed Rafiq Shah – have moved a breach of privilege motion against him for making ‘derogatory remarks’ against Legislative Council chairman Amrit Malhotra.