Officers’ panel fails to meet deadline for completion of enquiry twice

All set to approach GAD for grant of more time

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, May 27: A high-level committee constituted to conduct investigation into controversial selections made by the Jammu and Kashmir Khadi Village and Industries Board (KVIB) has failed to meet deadline for the completion of task twice thereby establishing that bringing facts to the fore in a time bound manner has not been prioritized by the Government.
The Khadi Village and Industries Board had issued an advertisement against various vacancies on October 8, 2016 and shortlisted candidates participated in the written test in August 2017. The interviews for the positions were conducted in the last week of January this year and subsequently selection list was issued.
The entire selection process, which was conducted by a private recruitment agency, came under question after some close relatives of the leaders of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) figured in the selection list. This created embarrassment for the PDP-BJP Government as the Opposition started leveling allegations that selections were made on the basis of relations and affiliations to a particular party.
After much criticism from the Opposition parties, the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on February 25, 2018 announced that high-level enquiry will be conducted into what she described ‘procedural inadequacies’ in the selection process of Khadi and Village Industries Board.
However, formal order in this regard was issued on March 19, 2018 when General Administration Department constituted a committee headed by R K Goyal, Principal Secretary to the Government, Home Department and comprising of Dr Pawan Kotwal, Principal Secretary to the Government, Health and Medical Education Department and Farooq Ahmad Shah, Secretary to the Government, School Education Department to enquire into the selections made by KVIB against various posts.
The mandate of the committee was to enquire into the complaints relating to the alleged unfair selections made by the Board; determine as to whether proper procedure as laid down in the relevant rules has been followed as has been done by other recruiting agencies or not; enquire into the methodology in selecting the agency for setting the question and evaluation process etc and ascertain whether any deviation has been made in the selection process from advertising the posts to the release of selection list.
It was specifically mentioned in the GAD Order No. 462 dated March 19, 2018 that committee shall submit its final report within one month positively.
As the committee failed to make any major headway vis-à-vis the assigned task, the General Administration Department had to extend the time-frame for the completion of enquiry. Vide Order No.733 dated April 27, 2018, the GAD granted one more month’s time to the committee for completion of enquiry.
By way of Order No.732 dated April 27, 2018, it was clarified by the GAD that high-level committee shall be serviced by the Secretary/Chief Executive Officer of Khadi Village and Industries Board instead of Industries and Commerce Department. However, rationale behind the same was not revealed.
“Though even the extended time-frame of one month expired today yet the committee has not completed the assigned task”, sources in General Administration Department told EXCELSIOR, adding “the committee has given sufficient hints that it will seek more time for completion of enquiry into the controversial selections made by KVIB”.
According to the sources, the high-level committee has conducted only two-three meetings ever since it was constituted in the month of March this year and has yet not reached any conclusion. “All this clearly indicates that bringing facts to the fore in a time bound manner in this particular case has not been prioritized by the Government despite severe criticism from the opposition parties”, sources remarked.
“Enquiry into this particular case should have been top most priority for the Government and dilly-dallying approach on the part of high-level committee is raising many questions vis-à-vis intention to bring facts to the fore”, they further said, adding “while granting one month time in April the General Administration Department should have explicitly told the high-level committee to meet the extended time-frame at any cost”.