Two-year deputation stretched out to infinity for political clout
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
JAMMU: Compromising all rules, regulations and norms governing the State administrative services, Mehbooba Mufti’s PDP-BJP government on Tuesday appointed a junior judge of judicial service as Managing Director of Jammu and Kashmir State Road Transport Corporation (JKSRTC).
Sources revealed to STATE TIMES that appointment of the former Minister Ghulam Hassan Mir’s son, Afroz Mir, as MD JKSRTC was the main purpose and agenda of Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting presided over by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. Mir does not figure anywhere in the cadres of Kashmir Administrative Service (KAS) or the Indian Administrative Service (IAS). Officials in General Administration Department (GAD) confirmed that consequent upon a Cabinet decision, Afroz Mir’s appointment order as MD JKSRTC was issued late in the evening on Tuesday.
According to sources in judiciary, Afroz Mir is a Munsiff in the State Judicial Service. However, some officials in Law Department insisted that he has maintained lien in J&K High Court and risen to the rank of a Sub Judge. They said that around 12 years back, he had been sent for deputation of two years as Assistant Legal Remembrancer (ALR) in Law Department.
Due to the strong political clout of his father, who served as a Cabinet Minister in Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s and Ghulam Nabi Azad’s PDP-Congress Government, Afroz Mir was further appointed as Director Defence Labour Procurement, a Special Secretary level post previously held by an IAS officer. When it was pointed out to then Chief Justice of J&K High Court, Justice Bashir Ahmad Khan, that a Munsiff on inferior deputation of two years had been appointed against a senior post in Civil service, he called an explanation from Chief Secretary. Thereafter the matter was hushed up and there was no follow up action.
Even as RTI activists complained to different authorities—finally to President of India—that a Munsiff had been sent on deputation despite the fact that around 38 subordinate courts were without presiding officer in Jammu and Kashmir, neither the State government nor the High Court initiated any action for this judge’s repatriation to the judicial service.
In reply to an application filed under RTI, a Public Information Officer informed that the matter of Afroz Mir’s repatriation to judicial service, in follow up to a communication from President’s office, would be discussed in a full court meeting. However, no such decision is understood to have been taken in the last 14 months. With no requisition pouring in from High Court, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s government further posted the same Munsiff as Chief Executive Officer of J&K Khandi and Village Industries Board. On Tuesday, Mehbooba Mufti’s Cabinet appointed the same judge as MD JKSRTC, a post equivalent to Special Secretary to Government or a major Head of Department in the Selection Grade pay scale of Rs 37400- 67,000 with grade pay of Rs 8,700.
Law Department officials said that change of service from Judicial to Civil service is completely illegal and unprecedented, though some District and Sessions Judges in the past have held brief deputation postings as Law Secretary. However, all of them later returned to their own services in judiciary. “This is like posting a DGP as Chief Secretary or a Dy SP as Tehsildar”, explained an official.
Sources in bureaucracy revealed further that former Chief Secretary Iqbal Khanday had also started a clandestine process of Afroz Mir’s induction through backdoor in so-called ‘Technical Quota’ of IAS in which he did not succeed due to objections and observations from the Union Public Service Commission. Meanwhile, G A Sofi MD SRTC, has been transferred and posted as Secretary (Technical) in transport department while Rashid Ahmad Qadri, Deputy Chief Executive Officer in the Khadi Board will take the charge of Secretary J&K Khadi Village Industries Board, the government order states In another order no 490-GAD of 2017, the government has appointed Tufail Matoo as the Project Director of Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan. Matoo has replaced IAS officer Saugat Biswas who was holding the charge of Project Director Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. Biswas has been posted as Project Director Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan on full time basis.
These orders were issued by the General Administration Department within hours after the cabinet met to discuss Kashmir situation.
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