Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
JAMMU: In brazen violation of the Jammu and Kashmir Transport (Gazetted) Service Recruitment Rules of 2017, notified vide SRO-289 of 2017 dated July 14, 2017, Transport Department with complicity of General Administration Department (GAD) has posted at least two ranker clerks of Health Department and Forest Protection Force (FPF) as Assistant Regional Transport Officers (ARTOs) in the last two months and the third such blue-eyed boy’s order of deputation and posting is being issued on Monday.
Without regard to the service rules and heartburn to dozens of Motor Vehicle Inspectors (MVIs), GAD has not only ordered deputation of an Administrative Officer of Health Department, Syed Nooruddin Andrabi, to Transport Department but also directed his subsequent posting as ARTO Baramulla vide Government Order No: 455-GAD of 2018 dated March 19, 2018.
According to a corrigendum to the said Government Order, Andrabi was working as “Private Secretary in the Personal Section of Deputy Speaker” and senior National Conference leader Nazir Ahmad Gurezi.
Subsequently, Secretary Transport M. Raju has posted Andrabi as ARTO Baramulla while replacing Jamsheed Rasool Choudhary vide Government Order No: 31-Tr of 2018 dated March 27, 2018.
Previously, GAD vide Government Order No: 200-GAD of 2018 dated February 2, 2018 not only ordered deputation of Administrative Officer Mohammad Baqir from Forest Protection Force to Transport Department but also got him posted as ARTO Kargil on the recommendation of a ruling party leader and legislator.
“If the bureaucrats have got to shut their eyes to rules and norms created by themselves and oblige the politicians obsequiously, the State has stooped to its lowest. Is this the good governance they were bragging about around the elections? This is total anarchy, unprecedented in the last many years”, said a senior MVI who has been holding a substantive position in Transport Department and is among dozen-odd MVIs waiting for their rank promotion as ARTO under provisions of SRO-289 of July 2017.
SRO-289 makes it clear that 50 per cent of the vacancies of ARTOs would be filled by Junior KAS officers selected by J&K Public Service Commission and subsequently appointed by the Government for combined services with the starting pay scale of Rs 9,300 – Rs 34,800 (Grade Pay Rs 4800). Rest 50 per cent of the 29 vacancies (including 3 of leave reserve and deputation) would be filled up by promoting Transport Department’s MVIs. Most of the Department’s own MVIs are holding degree or diploma in automobile or mechanical engineering, possess heavy passenger driving licenses and experience of five to eight years including extensive work shop experience.
Invariably on political and bureaucratic references, Transport Department has over the last many years hired a number of officials and engineers from J&K State Road Transport Corporation (SRTC) and Mechanical Engineering Wing of R&B Department. When a few years back, Transport Department adopted new rules and decided to repatriate all the officials working on deputation to their parent departments, some of them got the order stayed from J&K High Court.
After hearing the petitioners and the respondents, both wings of J&K High Court dismissed the petitions of the SRTC officials working on deputation as MVIs in Transport Department. Finally, Supreme Court of India upheld the judgment of J&K High Court and dismissed the SLP of the SRTC officials.
Even as four of such deputationists were repatriated in Jammu, Transport Department within days got back three SRTC officials namely Mohammad Yunus Khan, Abdul Hamid Bhat and CS Bloeria in violation of the Supreme Court judgment. The Supreme Court Bench had made it unambiguously clear that the officials hired on deputation would have to go back to their parent departments under rules. Service rules in J&K Government are clear that the deputation is normally for a period less than two years and can be extended to maximum of three years.
“We knocked at all doors and complained that these people were blocking our promotion prospects and they had no right to hold positions in Transport Department. However, nobody listened to us as most of such blue-eyed boys of politicians and bureaucrats are part of the infamous corruption network and licence mafia. They are extremely well connected and posted on important positions in violation of all rules, norms and court orders”, said another MVI.
“These people had been temporarily hired on deputation when new districts were created and the number of the vacancies of ARTOs rose up to 29 and Transport Department accordingly required more MVIs. Now that sufficient qualified and experienced staff is available, what’s the need of getting such blue-eyed officials from deputation from different departments?” Asked one ARTO.
Both the MVIs and one ARTO insisted on anonymity as they feared that they could be punished for raising question on illegal deputations and appointments in Transport Department. They revealed that many of the district boards, responsible for issuing driving licenses, fitness certificates etcetera, had been packed with less qualified officials including junior clerks. Under rules, at least one substantive MVI has to be with each district board. “Out of 58, we have as many as 30 MVIs illegally from SRTC and R&B”, said another ARTO.
As regards the two fresh blue-eyed boys, officials revealed that they were clerks promoted as Sectional Officers and given charge of Administrative Officers. “We are told that they are still in lower pay scale and grade pay but their political connections are high”, said an insider.
While as Commissioner-Secretary GAD, Khursheed Ahmad Shah, did not respond to phone calls, Secretary Transport M. Raju maintained that current appointments had been initiated and approved by GAD. “Sometimes we have constraints due to shortage of human resource and we get officials from other departments on deputation”, Raju told STATE TIMES. He refused to comment on continuation of the two recently appointed ARTOs but added: “We are considering to repatriate the MVIs we had got on deputation from other departments”.
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