Govt sets into motion process to fill vacant posts in Information, Vigilance Commissions

Muneer, Baseer, Parray, Aggarwal being considered for coveted posts
Municipal Bodies, Panchayats to get Ombudsman for first time

Mohinder Verma

JAMMU, Feb 21: Governor’s Administration has set into motion the process to fill vacant posts in the vital institutions like State Information Commission, State Vigilance Commission and Ombudsman for Urban and Rural Local Bodies and formal appointment orders are likely to be issued shortly.
All these are statutory bodies and have vital role in ensuring transparency and probity and checking complaints of corruption and maladministration in the Government departments and institutions. However, these posts were lying vacant during the past quite long time.
Highly placed sources in the Secretariat of Chief Secretary told EXCELSIOR that present Additional Director General of Police, Security and Law and Order Muneer Ahmed Khan is likely to be appointed as State Information Commissioner while as his brother and Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Baseer Ahmed Khan is tipped to be appointed as Ombudsman for Urban Local Bodies.
He will be the first ever Ombudsman in the Jammu and Kashmir as till date this post was never filled by the successive Governments even at a time when there were duly elected Urban Local Bodies (Municipal Corporations, Municipal Councils and Municipal Committees).
Similarly, serving IAS officer Hilal Ahmed Parray, presently Secretary to Government General Administration Department is likely to be appointed as Vigilance Commissioner. While Muneer Ahmed Khan and Baseer Ahmed Khan are going to attain age of superannuation in the month of June this year Hilal Parray will retire next month.
Former Financial Commissioner Housing and Urban Development Department K B Agarwal is tipped to be either first ever Ombudsman for the Panchayats or the Chief Information Commissioner, sources said, adding proposal in this regard will be placed before the Governor Satya Pal Malik in a day or two for approval following which the General Administration Department will issue formal orders of appointment.
The post of Chief Information Commissioner had fallen vacant soon after imposition of Governor’s Rule in Jammu and Kashmir as Khurshid Ahmed Ganai, who was holding this position, was appointed as Advisor to the Governor while as one post of the State Information Commissioner is lying vacant since long.
At present there is only one State Information Commissioner Mohammad Ashraf Mir and with the filling up of vacant posts of Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioner the transparency watchdog will function with its full strength.
Similarly, there is only one Vigilance Commissioner besides Chief Vigilance Commissioner and another post of the Vigilance Commissioner is lying vacant during the past quite long time.
As far as Ombudsmen for Urban Local Bodies and Panchayats are concerned, no serious attention was paid towards filling these vacancies by the successive Governments despite the fact that these institutions have a vital role to play in checking the complaints of corruption and maladministration in the Municipal Corporations, Municipal Councils, Municipal Committees and Panchayati Raj Institutions.
According to the sources, several other retired bureaucrats, who were also eying these posts, have conveyed their resentment to the Governor’s Administration over this proposal.
As per the provisions of Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information Act, the Chief Information Commissioner and the Information Commissioners shall be persons of eminence in public life with wide knowledge and experience in law, science and technology, social service, management and governance.
Similarly, as per the Jammu and Kashmir State Vigilance Commission Act, 2011, the Vigilance Commissioner shall be appointed from amongst the persons who are holding a post in the Indian Administrative Service or a post in any Civil Service of the Union or the State not below the rank of a Commissioner/Secretary to Government having knowledge and experience in the matters relating to the vigilance, law and finance.
The Jammu and Kashmir Municipal Ombudsman (Amendment) Act, 2018 and Jammu and Kashmir Panchayats Ombudsman (Amendment) Act, 2018 state: A person who has been a judge of the High Court or eligible to be appointed as Judge of the High Court or who has held the post of Commissioner/Secretary to the Government or equivalent rank is eligible for appointment as Ombudsman.
These Acts further state: “During the continuation of Proclamation issued under Section 92 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir or Article 356 of the Constitution of India as applicable to the State, the Ombudsman shall be appointed by the Governor on the recommendation of the committee consisting of Advisors to the Governor (one of whom to be nominated by the Governor shall be Chairperson of the Committee) and the Chief Secretary as Member Secretary”.