Even during Governor’s Rule, Ministers exist for Govt deptts!

Mohinder Verma

JAMMU, Jan 11: Though Council of Ministers ceased to exist following imposition of Governor’s Rule in Jammu and Kashmir, the Ministers are still existing for almost all the State Government departments. This can be gauged from the cursory surfing of the websites of majority of departments which continue to host the names, photographs as well as contact numbers of Ministers, who otherwise have just been rendered legislators in the absence of any political Government in the State.
The 24-member Council of Ministers ceased to exist from January 7 and the same became loudly clear following imposition of Governor’s Rule with effect from January 8 but majority of the Government departments have yet not accepted this reality.
Even four days after the Governor’s Rule came into being the websites of almost all the Government departments still carry the names, photographs and contact numbers of the Ministers, who otherwise became ‘ex-Ministers’ since January 7, 2016.
The General Administration Department is the only department of the State which has understood this reality and there are no contents under the title “Council of Ministers” on its website. This clearly indicates that updating of website of this key department is a regular phenomenon for those who have been assigned this task.
The Finance Department, which is also one of the important departments of the State, however, still considers Dr Haseeb A Drabu as its Minister Incharge and Pawan Gupta as Minister of State for Finance. Similarly, for the authorities of the Transport Department, Abdul Ghani Kohli is still Minister Incharge, which otherwise is not a reality following imposition of Governor’s Rule.
The Forest Department website still conveys that Bali Bhagat is the Minister Incharge with Abdul Majid Padder as his deputy. Likewise, Lal Singh is still Health Minister for the Department of Health and Medical Education with Asiya Naqash as Minister of State. Dr Nirmal Singh is still being shown as Minister for Housing and Urban Development by the department concerned.
What to talk of mentioning names and contact numbers, the websites of these three departments still host the photographs of the then Ministers without mentioning as ‘ex-ministers’. Similarly, Ch Zulfkar Ali and Sukhnandan Kumar are still being considered as Ministers by the departments of PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control and Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution.
“This clearly indicates that regular updating of the websites is not being given any attention by the concerned authorities”, sources said, adding the intensity of non-seriousness towards updating of official websites can be gauged from the fact that many departments still mention the names of those bureaucrats in ‘Who’s Who’ column of their respective websites, who otherwise were transferred to other departments several months back. One such is Transport Department, which conveys through its website that Baseer Ahmad Khan is its Administrative Secretary despite the fact that this officer was posted as Commissioner Commercial Taxes several months back.
Not only this, majority of the departments have not updated their websites with other important contents during the past several months. In this way, the Government departments are not only misleading the people but also flouting the Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information Act. The Section 4 of the Act clearly lays stress on regular updating of websites for the convenience of the general public.
In numerous communications to the General Administration Department, which is the controlling authority for all other departments, the State Information Commission has repeatedly laid stress on voluntary disclosure of information in terms of Section 2(1). The Commission has also observed with serious concern a number of times that official websites are not being updated on a regular basis.
“It seems that the concern of the State Information Commission as well as repeated circular instructions of the General Administration Department are not being taken seriously by other departments and the same is clearly evident from mentioning of names, contact numbers and photographs of the former Ministers on their respective websites”, sources said.

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