“ There is nothing new in world except the history you do not know.” – Harry Truman

Fayyaz says that the Law Secretary is sleeping over personnel requisitions and all key posts are vacant in the SAC

(Mr. Ahmed Ali Fayyaz, 48, was born in Bodina, Budgam, and received his primary and secondary education in Budgam and later at Amar Singh College, Srinagar. He completed his Master’s degree in Kashmiri language and literature from the University of Kashmir in 1987. After working with Rashtriya Sahara and Kashmir Times in 1993-94, and later for 13 years as Srinagar Bureau Chief of Daily Excelsior, he is working as Resident Editor/ Srinagar Bureau Chief of Jammu-based English daily Early Times since April 2009. He is also a filmmaker whose forte in audio-visual media is Kashmir’s composite culture, heritage, ecology and social issues. Since February 2008, he has been regularly anchoring Take One Television’s bi-weekly hard talk show “Face To Face With Ahmed Ali Fayyaz” which is watched by more than three million viewers in Srinagar, Jammu and other urban areas of Jammu & Kashmir.)

Govt Showcases SAC But Does Not Have Staff For It

Srinagar: Omar Abdullah-led coalition government may rightfully claim credit for reviving the defunct Jammu and Kashmir State Accountability Commission (SAC) with the appointment of its Chairman and a Member. However, Law Department’s cold-shouldering of repeated requisitions from the SAC and failure to provide staff to the accountability watchdog have raised serious doubts about the Government’s will to make the Commission functional.

SAC was created in 2003 after Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s PDP-Congress coalition government made a legislation with the support of then principal opposition party National Conference in 2002. It took Mufti’s government nearly two years to appoint SAC’s first Chairman in 2005. However, within a year, Justice RP Sethi tendered his resignation due to a host of reasons. Later, two of its members—G L Raina and Mohammad Muzaffar Jan— conducted some business but the Commission became fully non-functional with the retirement of its last member, namely Justice (retd) Muzaffar Jan, in 2008-09.

After over two years of suspended animation, SAC got a fresh lease of life when Omar Abdullah’s government recommended Justice (retd) Yash Pal Nargotra as Chairman and Justice (retd) Hakeem Imtiyaz Hussain as its Member on July 30, 2011. Governor accordingly issued the warrants of appointment on August 12, 2011. Both the appointees were sworn in amid fanfare by the coalition government on August 21. In the last nearly two months, SAC has been making repeated requisitions to the state Law Secretary, Ghulam Hassan Tantray, for appointment of staff on key positions but none of the communications has yielded anything.

A private building, hired for the SAC’s summer headquarters, in Sonwar area is being demanded back by its owner. Chairman and Member have got the eviction deferred by personal obligation. Their requests of establishing the headquarters at the old Legislature Complex, where J&K State Information Commission (SIC) has recently set up office, have also been ignored by the state government. Even the vital infrastructure, like computers, furniture and vehicles, has not been provided.

SAC has formally communicated to the Law Department that almost all of its key positions were lying vacant and the posts of Secretary, Deputy Secretary and Assistant Registrar were manned by “ineligible persons drawn from Law Department”. It has pointed out that it needed eligible incumbents, particularly from judiciary and J&K Police. There has been no action by the state government.

Presently, a Special Secretary from Legal Service of the state government is working as Secretary and a Deputy Secretary from Legal Service as Deputy Secretary of SAC. Besides, there is an Assistant Registrar from Law Department in Jammu. Three Junior Assistants have been hired from offices of Public Prosecutors. One female computer operator, engaged by a Deputy Commissioner on contract basis and eight Orderlies, four each in Kashmir and Jammu, are also manning positions at SAC. Authorities at SAC insist that none of these was holding a substantive post as an eligible incumbent.

While the substantive posts of Secretary, Deputy Secretary, Principal Secretary to Chairman, as also both posts of Deputy Registrar and both posts of Public Prosecutor are lying vacant, SAC does not have any official on the post of Financial Advisor cum Chief Accounts Officer. It does not end there. The Commission does not have an individual for one post of PA-cum-Stenographer, both posts of Stenographer and one-odd post of Section Officer. Besides, all four posts of Judgment Writer, all four posts of Computer Operator, both posts of Senior Assistant and both posts of Head Assistant are also lying unmanned.

Under the J&K State Accountability Commission Act, Government of Jammu & Kashmir is supposed to create an independent investigation agency for verification of complaints, inquiry and investigation of the matters brought before the SAC. A senior IPS officer of the rank of Additional DGP has to head the investigation agency with two DIGs to head it at Provincial level in Kashmir and Jammu. It also needs two SSPs, two Dy SPs, four Inspectors, four Sub Inspectors and other subordinate staff. Not a single official has been provided to it by the state Home Department/ Police Headquarters.

Informed sources revealed to Early Times that after failing to get any substantive response from Law Secretary Tantray in the last two months, SAC has now taken up the matter directly with Chief Minister’s Office. Principal Secretary to Chief Minister, Bharat Bhushan Vyas, is understood to have assured the Commission that necessary staff and infrastructure would be provided to it “within a few days”. Sources said that Mr Vyas, as well as DGP, Mr Kuldeep Khoda, were called to the SAC headquarters and made aware of the “extreme steps” the Commission could take by law.

The Commission has separately taken up the matter with Registrar General of J&K High Court. Both, DGP as well as J&K High Court authorities, have reportedly made it clear that the eligible staff would be provided as soon as a formal requisition would be received from Law Department.

Minister incharge Law & Parliamentary Affairs, Ali Mohammad Sagar, did not respond to phone calls when efforts were made to seek his comment and learn as to why the state Government had not provided staff and infrastructure to SAC.