Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Finance Commission

Constitution of State Finance Commission in offing 
Naseer A Ganai 
Srinagar, Nov 28: The Government is going to appoint chairperson and members of the State Finance Commission before the Budget session of the Assembly, senior officials said.  
The officials said that the Government has formed rules for the Commission and its secretary would be appointed within two weeks. However, they said, the Chairman and members of the Commission will be appointed by the chief minister himself. “It is discretion of the Chief Minister to appoint the chairman himself or he could take the decision by discussing it in the cabinet,” said a senior official of Finance Department. 
The State Finance Commission Bill, 2006 was introduced in summer session of the Assembly “to ensure equitable development of all regions in the State by equitable distribution of resources available for the development.” The Bill also said that the commission would make good of backlog of development and employment at the regional and district levels in Jammu and Kashmir. Some four months ago, when Government introduced the bill in the Assembly, it had promised that within six months it will constitute the State Finance Commission. 
The former finance Minister Muzaffer Hussain Baig told Greater Kashmir that the State Finance Commission bill was brought to expose many myths. “One of the biggest myth is that Jammu region is neglected in development,” he said. However, he said, he has no knowledge whether Government has done anything in this regard or not. 
The Commission apart from ensuring equitable development, has to identify the backward districts of the State and assess the deviation of these districts from the mean development level of the State and it has to evolve a set policy instructions to equalize the dispersal of development across the districts. The commission has to also identify the employment backlog at the regional, sub-regional, district or the targeted economic unit level and recommend measures for removal of disparities. Presently Kupwara is most backward district of the State and it is followed by Doda district.
The Commission has to submit its report to the Government within the time prescribed. 
The chairperson of the Commission should be an eminent economist with expertise in State Finance and Planning at regional level.
The Commission should have members (not exceeding five), having excelled in administration, regional planning, policy planning, entreprenueurship, investment, credits and legal or academic fields. 
The Government, according to the Jammu and Kashmir Finance Commission Act, will appoint the chairperson and members by notification. The Government has to appoint secretary to commission who will be the Chief Executive Officer of the Commission. The officials said that the secretary will be appointed within two weeks and rest of the appointments will be decided by the Chief Minister himself or they way he decides.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Lest we forget

14 yrs on, poor Gujjar woman fights for her missing son
Naseer A Ganai
Srinagar, Nov 22: It has been a long legal battle in search of her disappeared son, but 14 years down the line, Zaitoon Begum, 50, refuses to give up.
Her ordeal began on January 26, 1992, when the Dogra Regiment of Army took her son Nazir Ahmad Khan, 23 into custody along with his two neighbors Abdul Majid Khan and Muhammad Ayoub Khan
from Gujjarpatti village of Bandipora.
Later the two neighbors were released, but Army straightway denied the arrest of Nazir. Though shocked by the denial, Zaitoon didn’t give up. She went to the camp many a time. The repeated refusal of the Army forced her to move to the High Court. She filed a petition through her lawyer BA Tak in the court to seek whereabouts of her son.
“She is very poor and her husband has paralysis but she is a brave mother,” Tak said. “Years of struggle have not disillusioned her and she continues her fight for justice. She was harassed but nothing stopped her.”
On November 1, 1994 the court directed the District and Sessions Judge Varmul to hold an enquiry in her case.
The court conducted inquiry and found that Nazir Ahmad was really arrested by SD Singh and RP Singh, officials of the Dogra Regiment, and recommended to the concerned police station to register an FIR under section 302 of RPC against them. The police followed the court directions.
Last Thursday, Zaitoon along with her six children was in Srinagar in connection with the case in the High Court. “I am ailing and that is why I have brought my children here to show them where to pursue the case and whom to approach in case of my death,” Zaitoon said.
Praising the counsel, she said, he has never demanded any money from me. “Had he asked for it, I and my little children would have worked as labourers to pay him,” she said.
Tak said he was not alone who was fighting her case. “There are several others including GN Shaheen and MA Khan who are fighting the case,” he said.
The case is in final stage, said Tak.

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Govt lied on release of 11 detainees

Chief Secretary says ‘I thought they were released’
Naseer A Ganai  
Srinagar, Nov 4: Jammu and Kashmir government has not released 11 detainees who it announced would be freed last month.
The cases of the 11 detainees were screened by the government’s screening committee and later it was announced they would be set free on the eve of Eid-al-Fitr.
But 10 days after the holy festival, the detainees are yet to be released, sources in the Home Department told Greater Kashmir on Saturday.
“The file has been sent to Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad for his approval but so far there has been no response,” they added. 
Some of the detainees are: Muhammad Altaf Mir of Shopian, Farooq Ahmad Banday of Beerwah, Manzoor Ahmad Ganai of Bandipora, Gulzar Ahmad of Islamabad, Irfan Ahmad Mir of Varmul, Abdul Majeed of Budgam, Muhammad Maqbool Wagay of Kulgam, Basheer Ahmad Bhat of Chadura and Bashir Ahmad Hajam of Kulgam.   
Chief Secretary C Phunsog expressed surprise when told that the detainees have not been released. “I thought they were released. You can check it with the DGP (Director General of Police),” he said. The DGP was not available for comment.
However a senior police official said holidays and Darbar Move caused delay in the release of the 11 prisoners. “Once the Civil Secretariat opens in Jammu and the Chief Minister will have a look at the file, they will be released,” he said. 
Mian Abdul Qayoom, senior counsel and president of Kashmir High Court Bar Association said the screening committees, which are in the district and the state level, were formed by the government to “pass judgments on recommendation of advisory committees set up under the Public Safety Act or High Court judgments which set aside PSA detentions.”
He said the screening committees were responsible for the re-detention of detainees. “Whenever PSA of a detainee is quashed by the High Court, the detainees are not released because screening committees don’t want their release,” he said.   
Mir Shafqat Hussain, a lawyer who has pleaded cases of some of the detainees on the list said the High Court has already quashed detention of some of the detainees. “Now the screening committee has ordered their release, it’s strange why government has not released them,” he said.   
Meanwhile, local news agency CNS quoted relatives of the 11 detainees saying that “We met senior official in the Secretariat but they said approval of release of their wards has not been given so far.”