CIC asks J&K Govt to expeditiously take decision

Releasing pending salaries of employees of erstwhile JAKFED
*Says workers suffering immensely during past over 3 yrs

Mohinder Verma

JAMMU, Nov 10: Sympathizing with the employees of erstwhile J&K Cooperative Supply and Marketing Federation Ltd (JAKFED), Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) Y K Sinha has asked the Government of Union Territory to expeditiously take decision regarding release of pending salaries of workers of the Federation as they have been suffering immensely during the past over three years.
The order has been issued in an application filed under Right to Information Act filed by an employee of the erstwhile JAKFED. The applicant had filed an application under the transparency law on January 1, 2021 before Deputy Secretary/CPIO, J&K Cooperative Department seeking information on seven points which include how many employees of JAKFED have been adjusted in other departments and how many have been left with reasons for not adjusting them; reasons for not releasing salaries of employees since September 2009.
Having not received any information from CPIO, the appellant filed First Appeal dated February 12, 2021 and the First Appellate Authority/Additional Secretary, Cooperative Department vide order dated March 3, 2021 directed the CPIO in the office of Registrar, Cooperative Societies to furnish the information available in the record to the information seeker free of cost within 7 days from the issuance of order.
Though in compliance of First Appellate Authority’s order, the CPIO/Deputy Registrar, Cooperative Societies vide letter dated March 11, 2021 provided some information to the appellant yet the latter remained dissatisfied and accordingly he approached the Central Information Commission with the Second Appeal.
After hearing both the sides, Chief Information Commissioner Y K Sinha observed, “the crux of the matter lies in the appellant seeking the release of unpaid salary from JAKFED which was wound up on August 31, 2019”, adding “the procedure of release of payments due to various stakeholders of JAKFED is under process while the matter pertaining to release of salaries of employees of JAKFED is currently pending before the General Administration Department of J&K Government”.
“As Deputy Registrar Cooperative Societies J&K has provided information held by him in response to the queries raised by the appellant, the germane issue which has given rise to the instant Second Appeal is pendency of salaries of the erstwhile employees of JAKFED since September 2019”, the CIC said, adding “prior to winding up of organization some of the employees were deputed to different departments of the UT of J&K but the appellant shares the plight of the employees whose salaries remained unpaid”.
The Chief Information Commissioner further said, “in the given circumstances, no cause of action survives for adjudication under the RTI Act since information available on record with the public authority as defined under Section 2(f) of the RTI Act has been duly furnished. However, considering the plight of the appellant and others like him, the Commission strongly recommends an expeditious decision on the issue of releasing the pending salaries of the employees, who have already suffered for over three years”.
In the appeal, the appellant had pointed out that the JAKFED was ordered to be wound up on August 31, 2019 when payment of salary to employees was also stopped and vide State Administrative Council decision No.133/15/2019 it was ordered to frame an appropriate Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) for the employees of JAKFED. But till date nothing has been done.
It had further been mentioned in the appeal that in the month of October 2020, nine JAKFED employees were adjusted and sent on deputation to the Union Territory of Ladakh but rest were not adjusted till date.
“Since no salary has been paid since September 2019, the employees are suffering badly as such their salaries should be released without further loss of time. Moreover, they should be adjusted in other departments on the lines of those who have already been posted in other departments or organizations”, the appellant had specifically pointed out in the Second Appeal.