Governor urged to turn-down PSC panel as NC-Cong coalition loses credibility, mandate
Recommendees build pressure to get appointments cleared by Vohra, ECI; legal activist to ‘file’ PIL
SRINAGAR/JAMMU: With elections to the State Legislative Assembly announced, some of the recommendees for the vacant posts of Members in the Jammu and Kashmir Public Service Commission late Saturday evening built pressure on their political mentors to get clearance from the Election Commission of India after Governor N. N Vohra gives his assent, as the Model Code of Conduct has come into force.
However, reliable sources told STATE TIMES that the Governor is less enthusiastic in sailing through the proposal sent by the State Government after the Cabinet cleared the proposal in its meeting on 10th October, 2014. The reluctance of the Governor is reported to be on several counts, main being the opposition by some political parties including Bharatiya Janata Party and civil society activists besides verification on the antecedents of the recommendees.
The proposal cleared by the government is fraught with several controversies as the selection appears to have been informally finalised by the National Conference-Congress Coordination Committee at its meeting on 27th August 2014 in Srinagar rather than a competent screening panel constituted for the purpose. The names of the recommendees except the honourable exception of the Chairman had become known there and then as the panel made selective leaks to take credit for rehabilitation of their favourites. The sole idea appears to accommodate blue eyed officers who have allegedly remained hand in glove with the political executives and leaders. Except for exception of the proposed incumbent to head the Commission, several proposed members carry baggage of alleged corruption charges and association with undesired elements. The slots have been shared by Congress and the National Conference notwithstanding the government having lost its credibility as a cohesive coalition. The partners have been openly trading charges of corruption and nepotism against each other. The National Spokesperson of the Congress had recently sought monitoring of transfers by the Election Commission of India purportedly smelling rat from the senior coalition partner. Similarly, senior National Conference leader took serious exception to Class IV appointments made in the Education Department. With this baggage, the government is in no way competent to make the recommendations, especially after the list except the Chairman PSC was finalised at a Coalition Coordination Committee meeting.
“This is sheer politics and favouritism”, said BJP General Secretary Susheel Sudan questioning the prerogative of the Coordination Committee in suggesting names for the statutory appointments. He said the Coalition Government has made mockery of the system with making important institutions as rehabilitation centres for retired or likely retiring bureaucrats.
Sources told STATE TIMES that while a retired Head of the Department and a serving IAS officer are the choice of two senior National Conference Ministers the other two recommendees, a medical practitioner and other Head of the Department enjoy the patronage of a senior Congress functionary. The other choices have also been agreed by sharing the slots. N. D Sharma, President of the Pensioners Association has expressed his surprise that the political bosses remain in look out of the retired or retiring favourites to accommodate them in various public institutions with sinister motives. He sought the Governor to exercise his prerogative and advise the government to have serving IAS officers in the Commission who have at least ten years of service at their command so that they feel accountable for their acts.
A senior advocate, on the condition of anonymity told STATE TIMES that the matter will be taken up in the court of law, as the political establishment has no role for even considering statutory positions. He was referring to news reports about the NC-Cong Coalition Coordination Committee taking a call on the issue in mid August this year. “I am contemplating to file a Public Interest Litigation in appropriate forum”, he added. “Those getting appointed at the behest of politicians can never be fair to the candidates appearing for gazetted appointments before the Commission”, said a retired officer on the condition of anonymity, adding that their main objective remains to clear the debt of their rehabilitation by accommodating recommendees.
On 11th October, the State Cabinet approved the names of Khurshid Ahmad Ganaie, IAS, Financial Commissioner, Industries & Commerce Department, J&K, as Chairman besides Sheikh Mushtaq Ahmad, IAS, Secretary to the Government, Higher Education Department, Mukherjeet Sharma, IFS (retd), B. R Lachotra, Director General, Economics & Statistics (std), Wali Mohammad Bhat, Director General, Accounts & Treasuries (retd), Dr Tejit Singh, Prof Ophthalmology (retd) and Dr Farooq Ahmad Kaloo, Director, Animal Husbandry (retd) as Members of the Commission. The file is currently pending for assent of the Governor, who is reportedly having reservations keeping in view the public outcry. Known for adhering highest standards of public morality, which was evinced during the appointment of Kuldeep Khuda as Chief Vigilance Commissioner, the Governor is likely to take his own decision on merits. He is seized of the adverse opinion especially from Jammu which seeks rejection of the recommendations and matter to be left for new government to tackle.