An informal panel comprising politicians of the ruling coalition has begun an exercise to “evaluate” retired government officials to fill up five vacancies in Jammu and Kashmir State Public Service Commission (PSC) although it has no such mandate by law and the Constitution.

Informed sources revealed to The Hindu that the panel of six politicians held a meeting in Jammu on Saturday and discussed various names for the Constitutional body responsible for selecting incumbents for all gazetted services in the State government. Saif-ud-din, Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee chief, who heads the panel, known as the ‘Coalition Coordination Committee’ (CCC), is neither a legislator nor a minister in Omar Abdullah’s government. He is currently a member of Rajya Sabha.

The second Congress representative in the CCC, Mangat Ram Sharma, is a former legislator who functioned as Deputy Chief Minister in Mufti Mohammad Sayeed-led Peoples Democratic Party-Congress coalition government from 2002 to 2005. Since 2009, he has not held any position in the State government as he is neither an MLA nor an MP.

However, Tara Chand, the Congress’third representative in the six-member panel, is currently Deputy Chief Minister. All three of the National Conference representatives – Abdul Rahim Rather, Ali Mohammad Sagar and Chowdhary Mohammad Ramzan – are MLAs and Ministers in the State Cabinet.

The PSC comprises a chairman and eight members. With the five members having retired in the past three years, it has currently just three members – Khizar Mohammad Wani, Masood Samoon and Kulbhushan Jandial. Chairman Shiban Lal Bhat and the other three members are due to retire in 2014. While as a member, Tara Singh, retired in December 2009, the five-year term of three more members – Mohammad Manzoor Bhat, Roop Lal Bharti and H.L. Goswami, ended in May 2011. Javed Makhdoomi, another member, retired in January 2013.

A creation of the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution, the PSC has had no role for representatives of political parties in the selection or appointment of its members or Chairman since it was created in 1957. The State Cabinet, under the rules, recommends the names to the Governor for approval. After the Raj Bhawan communicates its approval to the government, the General Administration Department issues the order of the appointment.

  • Retired officials below 62 years are eligible for the membership of the PSC

  • State bureaucracy, ministers and legislators openly critical of the “new precedent”