“Result notification issued on November 16 without mandatory approval”

Days before his retirement on Thursday, one of the four members of the Jammu & Kashmir Public Service Commission [PSC] complained to Governor Narendar Nath Vohra that rules and regulations were being flouted with impunity in the selection of gazetted officers for different civil and judicial services in the State.

A communication received by the Raj Bhavan from the outgoing PSC member Javed Makhdoomi last week alleged that Chairman S.L. Bhat “completely sidelined and reduced to a rubber stamp” three of the four members of the multi-member constitutional body with the help of one member and Secretary of the commission. Mr. Makhdoomi cited the selection of junior judges, while dropping a veritable bombshell that the result notification issued on November 16 had not been signed or approved in any other manner by three of the four members.

The communication accessed by The Hindu carries along a bundle of documents to establish that the three members — Javed Makhdoomi, Kulbhushan Jandial and Masood Samoon, had made repeated submissions to the Chairman, urging him to stem the rot of “selective leakage” and make the selection processes fair and transparent. However, Mr. Bhat not only persisted with the scheme of things with impunity but also got the result of the Kashmir Civil Service Judicial Examination notified without the Commission’s mandatory approval.

“Yes, I have sent a representation to the Governor and sought his intervention to set things right at the PSC,” Mr. Makhdoomi confirmed. “If three of the four members of the Commission have recorded their reservations, expressed serious apprehensions with regard to the fairness of the selection process and refused to sign it, somebody needs to probe,” Mr. Makhdoomi told The Hindu. The Governor, he said, was the “last resort” as the Chairman, according to him, had not responded to the representations of the three members. He asserted that the result notification of KCS (Judicial) examination was “completely illegal and unauthorised,” confirming that he, on behalf of the three dissident members, requested the Governor to order an investigation.

Raj Bhavan sources said that a letter from Mr. Makhdoomi had been received and it was being passed on to the Governor.

“The result notification needs to be cancelled forthwith as it doesn’t have approval of three-fourth of the members,” Mr. Makhdoomi said. Quoting from PSC’s rules of business and procedure, he contended that all decisions, including selection lists and result notifications, were required to be approved by the quorum — 50 per cent of the members plus one. He claimed that only one of the four members— Khizar Mohammad Wani, was taken on board in issuing the result notification of the Munsiffs’ written examination.

Vacancies

As against the sanctioned strength of eight members and a chairman, the PSC has been operating with just four members and the chairman since 2001. With Mr. Makhdoomi’s retirement now, its size has further reduced to three — the first time in the last several years.

Interestingly, none of the government departments has referred any vacancies to the Commission in recent times, though they are all bound by SRO-166 dated 14-06-2005 to refer all vacancies “by the 15th of January every year.”

The PSC is currently scheduling the interview of the 202 candidates declared as passed in the screening test. However, in the last seven weeks the Chief Justice of the J&K High Court has not deputed any of the judges to assist the PSC panel in holding the viva voce. Informed sources insist that inclusion of names of the children of some influential men in the executive and the judiciary has raised many eyebrows in certain institutions and the civil society.

The communication received by the Raj Bhavan carries documentary evidence to prove that the members had repeatedly urged the Chairman to plug the “selective leakage,” which, according to the three dissident members was being managed by men in the Civil Secretariat through some computer operators and ‘consultants’ engaged on contract. It has been pointed out that even a retired official, who has worked with the Chairman’s loyalist member at the non-gazetted recruitment board previously, has also been engaged by the PSC.

The Commission's chairman, S.L. Bhat, and Secretary, T.S. Ashok Kumar, did not respond to phone calls. The Hindu also e-mailed a questionnaire to Mr. Kumar, but did not receive a response in the last 10 days.

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