JK Bank and Transparency

Abdul Rashid Khan
Recently there was much furore over the selection list of candidates who had passed the preliminary exam for the post of Probationary Officers of JK bank. Many eyebrows were raised for the criteria and cut off percentage fixed for the candidates belonging to different provinces of J&K State. As per reports, 40 percent and 60 percent cut off was fixed for candidates of Kashmir and Jammu province respectively. The discriminatory criteria fixed by the JK bank for the candidates of different regions attracted attention of all. Last year also voices were raised over the functioning of JK bank and its recruitment policy. If it is a fact that different cut off percentage has been kept by JK bank for candidates belonging to different regions of one state then it is a matter of serious concern and therefore needs an immediate attention of the Governor and the board of Directors of JK bank. If the reports are true that candidates belonging to Jammu province could not make it even though securing more than 40% but less than 60% is a brazen infringement of their constitutional rights. Such type of discrimination made by the HR section of the bank on the basis of region is unheard of. Every citizen of India has right to equal opportunities for obtaining jobs in Government as well as public sector departments.
At the first instance the JK bank HR department refuted the allegations. But when there were strong protests in various parts of state particularly in Jammu city, the chairman immediately announced that there will be uniform cut off percentage for all candidates of J&K Sate. He made a mockery of the recruitment rules. One fails to understand as to how the chairman refuted the press note issued by the president of HR wing of JK bank. Also question arises was this announcement made on the intervention of the Governor? This indicates that there is some thing wrong in the recruitment policy of JK Bank. Also previously suspicion was raised on the recruitment of the candidates for post of bank executives as well as for probationary officers. How far this information is correct, it is said that during the previous regimes of NC and PDP, due preferences were given to the candidates belonging to areas of X finance ministers to strengthen their vote bank. There is no accountability for the functioning of bank. In some branches of JK bank, some staff members are not even customer friendly. The JK bank does not have the facility of increasing the limit of withdrawal and upgrading the ATM cards as is the normal practice in other banks. It is done only on the written request of customers of JK bank and the procedure for the same has been made too cumbersome. Last year the governor was pleased to announce that the bank will be brought under the purview of Information Commission to make it more transparent and accountable. But what happened to that decision, whether it was enacted or not, is not known. The different cut off percentage fixed for candidates belonging to different districts of JK state shows that there is hardly any transparency in the recruitment policy of JK Bank. The appointment of higher as well as lower posts are mostly influenced by political interferences of the party in power. With the introduction of digital and on line system in bank, the man power in the JK Bank could be economically and properly utilized to reduce the wage bill which will result in the savings on the expenditure side.
The J&K bank is a peoples bank, as it mostly depends on the deposits of its customers. The bank could also restrict their extravagant expenditure being spent on furniture and other luxury items at the cost of customers money. They never visualize the percentage of risk involved while making the advancement of the loans that is why the NPA’s of the bank have increased day by day. Since it is not accountable to information commission, no body knows the present status of the NPA’s of JK Bank. The bank shows the rosy picture of the profits which is just an Eye Wash as they never indicate the losses they have incurred due to NPA’S and non recoverable loans. One can not expect any improvement in the bank as the corporate office remains mostly ignorant about the working of staff dealing with retail banking and ground situations. The corporate office of the bank located at TRC is highly fortified and manned by dozens of security people. It is not therefore easily accessible to common people. The office is highly secured and restricted to the access of common people as it has been made to appear as most vulnerable institution from security point of view.
The building gives a look of garrison as if some army general is sitting there with many barriers at entry point. It is high time if the Governor fulfills his last year’s commitment to make JK bank accountable to Information Commission/Vigilance Commi-ssion. Since the State Government owns more than 52% shares in the bank, it needs to make all the appointments through State Service Selection Board and PSC to make it fully transparent. The board also needs to have the members who are the economists of eminence as well as the persons who are most professional bankers to monitor its working closely and efficiently.