Pick-n-Choose Departmental Store of GAD – Aisi 'Azad'i Aur Kahan
More judicial activism is needed to "highlight" GAD's love for the blue-eyed
Naseer A Ganai
Srinagar, October 7, 2006:- The recent censure of the State High Court (HC) when it took suo moto action to seek an explanation from the Government for promotion of a junior judicial officer (Munsiff) Afroz Mir to the post of Director, Defence Labour Procurement (DLP) has again brought to light the murky ways of the General Administration Department (GAD), which has been working as a job-finder outpost for the blue-eyed kin of our politicians and bureaucrats.
Little fact of the matter is that Afroz, who was promoted "in the interest of administration" from the post of an under secretary (he was working as an Assistant Legal Remembrancer in the Law Department where he was already on deputation) to the post of Director DLP, which is a special secretary post, because he was the son of an ex-Minister and a senior PDP leader Ghulam Hassan Mir. That what is shocking also is the fact that the decision was taken in the absence of Commissioner Secretary GAD, Khursheed Ahmad Ganai, who was away in England attending a training course
The HC censure has opened a can of worms in the GAD with more skeletons tumbling out and embarrassing the GAD for its naughty rule twisting exercises to benefit people having considerable influence in the corridors of power.
The recent appointment of an Audit Officer in the State Cooperative Department Mehmood Ahmad Shah as Assistant Commissioner Development (ACD) Srinagar along with three other Deputy Registrars of the same department has caused much heartburn in the 1999 KAS/CCS batch. Rubbishing aside the PSC merit list, Shah, who figures at Serial No.105 has been made ACD ahead of over a 100 other officers triggering a near revolt from the 1999 KAS/CCS officers. Sources revealed that Shah has been picked as he happens to be the elder brother of the son-in-law of a senior bureaucrat, considered to be one of the most powerful in the state administration.
" Mehmood has benefited because of faulty existing rules within GAD for direct recruits appointed by the PSC. While they retain top 5-6 candidates and confer junior KAS status on them, the remainder are dumped in 17 feeding cadre services where their inter se seniority is fixed along with other promotees. Hence the present stalemate," explains an under secretary of the 1999 batch preferring anonymity. "A common seniority list within the GAD paving way for promotion into the senior cadre strictly as per the merit fixed by PSC is the solution to the crisis," added the officer. An outcome of the faulty system can be gauged from the fact that the 1999 batch CCS officers allotted Industries and Revenue Departments are running from pillar-to-post for fixation of seniority within the department. Shockingly, the Industries Department is yet to fix seniority of its officers for the last more than 22 years. In fact, another batch of 23 candidates allotted Industries Department in 2001 is also sailing in the same boat.
A delegation of the 1999 batch officers have met the Chief Minister Mr. Ghulam Nabi Azad and brought this serious issue to his notice. "The CM has taken note and the matter has been referred to the Chief Secretary. We hope our grievances are redressed," hopes another officer from the 1999 batch.
Of the 260 candidates selected in 1999, after a hiatus of nearly 15 years, 6 were conferred junior KAS, 81 were recruited into police and 40 were allotted Accounts service. The remaining candidates were distributed into 17 general feeding services. Interestingly, the junior KAS officers were promoted in a time-bound manner in 2003 strictly as per merit obtained in PSC exam. Ditto for police and accounts services where most of the officers have already been promoted as SPs and Financial Advisors. "How much more humiliation will we take. Not only have we seen our batch-mates promoted in 2003 but the junior KAS of 2001 batch have also been promoted this year. To rub salt into our wounds, now a batch-mate figuring at Serial No.105 has carved his way past over 100 colleagues to the post of ACD, courtesy GAD," rues a Tehsildar who figures much ahead of his fellow officer. The officers have been for years demanding issuance of a common seniority which, it seems for now, has no takers. Ironically, those officers are finding themselves in the lurch for whom this service has been primarily created.
Sources revealed that the Establishment-cum-Selection Committee constituted by the Government, which is blowing hot and cold over the issue of common seniority, has now rejected in principal the concept of common seniority retrospectively with the remarks that the issue can be considered prospectively. Reliable sources have further revealed that the Establishment Committee had earlier agreed to the proposal when Mr. Vijay Bakaya headed the state administration. "It is a mystery that why the proposal was not tabled for the cabinet nod," says another under secretary. It has been learnt that another blue-eyed boy lurking down in the PSC merit list will be "reprieved" by the present system and a member of the Establishment Committee is working overtime to ensure that the common seniority doesn't take effect retrospectively. "It is a strange remedy. It is just like a doctor telling fellow doctors that Aids vaccine should not be given to people living now but those who will take birth later," says an ETO of 1999 batch.
Ironically the Chief Secretary Mr. C. Phunsong and Commissioner Secretary GAD Mr. Khursheed Ahmad Ganai, whom Greater Kashmir talked to, seemed to agree that a common seniority list is the solution to the crisis that is certain to aggravate if not addressed immediately. It has been learnt that Ganai is "unhappy" that such important decisions were taken in his absence and also when he was about to resume services in a week's time.
Sources revealed that there is a strong politician-bureaucrat lobby that is preventing the issuance of a common seniority list. "A common seniority will stop this joke of pick-n-choose policy shown largely in the interest of administration and also stop the government from picking blue-eyed officers for lucrative postings. It will also sound a death-knell of another routine policy of appointing officers to higher cadre posts in OPG ( Own Pay & Grade) that has been done in case of Afroz Mir and Mehmood Ahmad Shah," says an under secretary.
Such is the state of working in the GAD that it seems whenever another transfer/posting order is issued, the state High Court will have to take suo moto look for more Afrozes and Mehmoods tucked lucratively somewhere towards the lower end of the list. Unless that happens, the GAD will continue to behave like a departmental store where the mighty and the influential will reap illegitimate benefits by relaxing rules and yes again in the interest of administration!!!