The erstwhile State Assembly Speaker and present deputy chief minister of J&K, Tara Chand, became a high profile inquiry case for the state’s anti-graft body State Accountability Commission (SAC) this week. The SAC on Monday initiated an inquiry against him over charges of making backdoor appointments in Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) during his earlier stint as minister for Housing and Urban Development Department (HUDD).
During preliminary inquiry initiated on a complaint filed by one Saqib Mushtaq Shora of Qamarwari, SAC found that Tara Chand did not negate charges of making seven specific illegal appointments in ULBs during his tenure as HUDD Minister. Shora alleged that Tara Chand has been involved in corruption, misuse of official position, favoritism and nepotism.
“Conspicuous silence of the respondent about his role in the appointments make him prima facie liable for violation of the rules,” the Commission comprising Chairman Justice YP Nargotra and member Justice Hakeem Imtiyaz Hussain observed. The deputy chief minister was also directed by the Commission to furnish reply within six weeks.
In his reply, Tara Chand, the senior most Congress minister in the state cabinet, submitted that after the case of illegal appointments came to fore, he instituted two separate inquiries for Kashmir and Jammu provinces to probe the matter.
After going through his reply, the Commission said that from the material on record it finds a prima facie case is made out for a regular enquiry against Tara Chand. The Commission also docked him in some of the appointments made in Bandipora .
Tara Chand, who holds portfolio of School Education, was born on April 25, 1963 in Chak Malal, Chhamb in Jammu district. He started his political career by joining Congress when he was twenty years old. He gained instant popularity as a leader through active involvement in social work.
He won his first Assembly election in 1996 from Chhamb Assembly constituency. In 1996 itself, he was chosen as the leader of the Congress Legislature Party. In 2002, he again won from the same constituency and was elected as Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, a post he held for six years. In the 2008 Assembly elections, Tara Chand completed a hat-trick of victories from Chhamb Assembly constituency and rose to become deputy chief minister of the J&K state.
Significantly, the inquiry against Tara Chand has been ordered at a time when the top State Congress leaders and sitting ministers Taj Mohiuddin and Sham Lal Sharma are facing serious charges of corruption.