Well before a petition was sent to Jammu and Kashmir Governor Narinder Nath Vohra last week, three of the four members of the J&K Public Service Commission [PSC] had made it clear to panel chairman S.L. Bhat that they would not participate in any decision-making until the services of five temporarily-engaged persons were terminated.

Hired as ‘consultants’ and computer operators, these officials have, for long, been handling critical data of examinations and evaluation and allegedly faced charges of selective leakage.

According to a bundle of documents provided to the Governor and accessed by The Hindu , dissident member Masood Samoon was on leave when PSC secretary T.S. Ashok Kumar fixed November 15, 2012, as the date for the commission’s 10{+t}{+h}meeting. Before his departure for Haj, Mr. Samoon had levelled an unprecedented accusation on the chairman’s only loyalist member, alleging that Mr. Khizar Mohammad Wani had accessed the merit list of the previous years’ Kashmir Combined Civil Services examination, a.k.a. Kashmir Administrative Service, far before it was revealed to other members and notified.

Two other dissident members, Javed Makhdoomi and Kulbhushan Jandial, were surprised to note that approval of the results of Kashmir Civil Service (Judicial) Examination and a government-sponsored proposal to amend the Commission’s rules of business and procedure were on the agenda of the November 15 meeting. Both the members wrote a joint letter to the chairman seeking postponement of the meeting until Mr. Samoon’s return. They demanded that the contractually-engaged officials be discharged and removed from the process of selection of the junior judges (munsiffs).

Bureaucrats at the State government’s Law Department are said to have played a key role in drafting the amendment to the rules, aimed at stripping the PSC members of their powers and shifting the same to the chairman. It would indeed be easier for members of the bureaucracy and politicians to run their writ in the fully autonomous and constitutionally independent multi-member commission.