*SVO findings reveal glaring irregularities, procedural lapses
JAMMU, Jan 7: In the much publicized case of illegal appointments in the Legislative Assembly Secretariat by three former Speakers, Jammu and Kashmir State Accountability Commission (SAC) has sought personal appearance of Deputy Secretary as his reply to the earlier notice was found unconvincing. In this case, the State Vigilance Organization (SVO) has already established glaring irregularities and procedural lapses besides blatant violation of constitutional and fundamental rights.
Reliable sources told EXCELSIOR that in the recent past the State Accountability Commission took suo-moto cognizance of the reports that State Vigilance Organization (SVO) has clearly established irregularities and procedural lapses in 37 appointments made by three former Speakers of the Legislative Assembly.
Accordingly, the case was placed before the Full Commission comprising Justice B A Khan (Chairperson) and Justice J P Singh and Justice B A Kirmani (Members) which found it appropriate to seek reply from the Legislative Assembly Secretariat on the nature of appointments and mode adopted by former Speakers etc. Thereafter, the Commission issued notice to the Legislative Assembly Secretary.
However, Deputy Secretary of Legislative Assembly Secretariat Gh Mohi-ud-Din Bhat in his reply avoided direct answer to the queries raised by the Accountability Commission and simply mentioned that the case was sub judice in the High Court, Jammu Wing, sources said.
After going through the reply, the Full Commission found it unconvincing and few days back the Commission issued notice to the Deputy Secretary asking him to appear before it on February 15, 2017 to explain the reasons behind not furnishing explicit reply. He has also been asked to explain whether the former Speakers have approached the High Court seeking their intervention in the PIL highlighting illegal appointments and whether such applications have been considered by the High Court, sources said.
He has also been directed to explain whether High Court has passed any interim order in the PIL asking State Vigilance Organization not to proceed further with the case after establishing irregularities and procedural lapses in these 37 appointments, sources further said, adding after hearing Deputy Secretary of Legislative Assembly Secretariat on all these aspects on next date of hearing the Accountability Commission will decide future course of action.
They said that this case strictly falls under the jurisdiction of the Accountability Commission as MLAs are made Speakers of the Legislative Assembly and they are the public functionaries as per the definition contained in the Jammu and Kashmir State Accountability Act.
As per the record furnished by the Assembly Secretariat during the course of preliminary enquiry by the State Vigilance Organization, 28 appointments were made by the then Speaker Mohd Akbar Lone (presently MLA of National Conference), 5 by the then Speaker Tara Chand (former MLA) and 4 by the then Speaker Mubarak Gul (another sitting MLA of National Conference).
“Though the existing Recruitment Rules-J&K Assembly Secretariat (Recruitment and Conditions of Services) Rules, 1959 give powers to the Speaker to make such appointments yet the mode of making such appointments is not clear in the Rules”, reads the report of SVO.
“In the absence of Rules regarding mode of appointments, the law laid down in this behalf makes it obligatory to adopt the procedure of open and fair competition by putting these posts to the advertisement thereby giving equal opportunity to the eligible candidates as provided under Constitution”, the SVO said, adding “37 appointments have been made by the Speakers of the relevant times directly after receiving the applications/representations from the candidates and for making such appointments by such direct mode recourse of precedence has been taken which is not legally sustainable as in the years 2001 and 2005 the posts were put to advertisement”.
“It is clear from the records and reply that the procedure of law has not been followed in making such appointments and only precedence has been relied upon. However, the precedence cannot make rules”, the SVO further said, adding “the competence of appointing authority doesn’t mean going against the principles of natural justice as equal opportunity is to be provided to everyone-all eligible candidates for any post which is Constitutional and Fundamental rights guaranteed to all citizens in the matters of employment to any office of the State”.
However, despite these findings of the State Vigilance Organization no action has been taken by any of the organs of the Government including the Secretariat of Legislative Assembly.