Jammu and Kashmir Agriculture Minister and associate member of Congress Ghulam Hassan Mir continues to be in the eye of a storm after media reports last month alleged that one of the Army’s in-house inquiries had found him the recipient of Rs. 1.19 crore from the Technical Support Division (TSD), set up by former Army chief Gen (retd.) V.K. Singh.
Cutting across party lines, members have not only moved motions for special discussion, but also notices of breach of privilege, against Gen. Singh., in the bicameral Legislature.
Even as legislators across the board seem eager to hear the former Army chief’s explanation of or clarification on the issue, they do not seem confident that he will appear either at the Legislative Council or Assembly.
Amrit Malhotra, Chairman of the 36-member Upper House, received the privilege motion from three National Conference (NC) members, including Minister of Planning Ajay Sadhotra, and referred it to the Privilege Committee for opinion. Separately, a discussion is also slated in the House on Tuesday.
Last week, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) legislators were absent when the Presiding Officer called them to initiate a discussion on their motion. NC’s members later accused the Opposition of “not being serious” in seeking a discussion on Gen. Singh’s purported statements.
In the Lower House, Speaker Mubarak Gul is still examining a privilege notice moved by 16 NC legislators.
Last week, some members such as the NC’s Aga Ruhullah as well as Independent MLA Engineer Rashid traded charges of being the beneficiaries of the Army’s and other Central agencies’ underhand benefits.
The issue entered a crucial phase with the Assembly scheduling on Monday a discussion for more than two hours on the TSD controversy. The Chief Minister is expected to reply to the discussion.
Mir, a minister for four terms since 1984, is expected to face questions.
In a brazen act, Mir’s son, who is a junior judge (Munsiff) in the State judicial service, was shifted to the Civil Secretariat on “deputation” during Mufti Sayeed’s period as Chief Minister and appointed as Director of Defence Labour Procurement in the civil administration, notwithstanding resentment in the Judiciary as well as the Kashmir Administrative Service (KAS) and the Indian Administrative Service (IAS).
The post given to the minister’s son, within a few years of his appointment as Munsiff, had been held previously by senior KAS and IAS officers in the past. None of the successive governments reversed the “deputation” that had been cleared by the J & K High Court, only for two years for a junior post in the Law Department.
The High Court had once asked the then Chief Secretary Sham Singh Kapur to submit an explanation of how the junior judge had been appointed to a senior administrative position without his employer’s clearance. However, none of the successive Chief Justices pressed hard the Munsiff’s repatriation, even though 38 Munsiff courts in the State remained unmanned.
Last year, the Chief Minister turned down the State Vigilance Organisation’s plea seeking the mandatory government sanction to Mir’s prosecution as it claimed that a matter of corruption and misuse of official position, filed in 1980s, had been established against the then Law Minister, Mir.