Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather became the latest high official in the government against whom the State Accountability Commission issued a notice for corrupt practices. 

J&K government “celebrated” year 2011 as the “year against corruption”. Nothing much happened till the second half of the year when the SAC was revived with two former judges – a chairman and another member. The Commission’s first fresh case was against the chief minister on political appointments – a case in which the government says SAC oversteps its mandate. In quick succession came SACs suo moto cognizance of Peerzada Sayeed’s case, the disgraced minister who enjoys a lot of sympathy within the congress high command. And the latest against Rather is more interesting.

A day after he received the notice Rather reacted saying it was part of the vilification campaign that “some people” have launched against him for the last two years. A six-time lawmaker, Rather put forth his 35-year “unblemished” record in public life. “But last two years are an exception because some people have written false complaints against me and apparently tried to settle personal scores without substantiating anything,” he said. The complainant against Rather came from Yuva Shakti Vikas Mission, which SAC says has not disclosed its addresses, particulars or the credentials, accusing the minister of giving two crore rupees contract to his son for preparing biometric smart cards for state employees. SAC says the smart cards project was worth Rs 24 lakhs and was implemented by J&K Bank for IT ministry. It has accused him of taking a cut of Rs 12 crores in a deal under which the state would set up a data centre of its employees. SAC says the project is IT ministry’s baby and was being implemented by the National Informatics Centre where no tendering is required.

The complaint alleges the minister has taken cuts in the mapping and satellite imagery of the Dal Lake catchment under Rs 356 crores centrally funded rehabilitation project but SAC findings suggest the UEED project is still at the stage of seeking expressions of interest from the relevant companies. But SAC has started a regular enquiry against Rather because it believes his ministry did not reject the IT ministry proposal of paying J&K Bank Rs 24 lakh in the ‘smart cards scam’ that violated codal formalities. But Rather says his department (at lower level) sent the file back. But later cabinet approved it condoning the violation of norms because the project had already been implemented.  Interestingly, the J&K Bank says the state government was desperate to utilize resources that were otherwise getting wasted and they agreed to implement it only after being persuaded.


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