Legal victory

In the legal battle with the state government, Farooq Ahmad, the terminated ex-IGP came out victorious, after his retirement order was quashed.

He had been retired in a jiffy and had been deemed to have overstayed in government service according to a state order dated 18th February, 2011. His retirement was made effective from March 2009.

The issue had come about when the Union government recognised his year of birth as 1949, while as the state after an appeal from the officer had accepted his year of birth as 1951.

“There was no fraud, malafide (intent) or manipulation by the petitioner who approached the state government back in 1981 for change of his date of birth from 1949 to 1951. The petitioner had put all the facts before the state government while seeking the change in date of birth. After 17 years the state government passed the orders accepting the request of the officer,” stated the judgement. Justice Muzzafar Hussain Attar, who passed the final orders, observed that the state government had ordered the retirement of the petitioner without proper application of mind. He dismissed it as unconstitutional, illegal and void ab-Initio.

Justice Attar also held that the petitioner had not been heard before the order was issued. “No notice was issued to him and the order against him was passed without hearing him.” The counsel also submitted that the change of date of birth in respect of petitioner had been ordered by the state government while it had the authority to do so.

Court overruled the contention of the counsels of Union of India and the state government that the petitioner stood inducted into IPS when the change in the date of birth was ordered by the state government and that the state had no powers to do so. The petitioner’s counsel further contended that though the officer had been inducted into IPS in 1995, the entire list had been quashed by the Central Administrative Tribunal of Chandigarh in July 1998. “By virtue of CAT quashment the officer literally reverted back to state services,” he said.

Justice Attar ordered that Farooq be treated as an IPS officer who had not retired and all emoluments and perks due to him be released immediately. The court directed the state government to post Farooq against a post commensurate with his stature within one week.

Improving employability
One lakh youth will be provided job linked skill training over a period of five years in a central government sponsored scheme. The proposal called Skill, Empowerment and Employment Special Scheme (SEE J&K) was cleared by the central government, and an expenditure of 235.3 crores was sanctioned.

The scheme formed an important component of the Rangarajan Committee report submitted to the prime minister in February 2011. The report had suggested identifying sectoral initiatives for growth and employment generation, and increase in employability of youth by improving skill sets.

After training the skilled youth will be aided with placements in the private sector within and outside the state. The scheme would commence from June-July this year. First set of placements is likely to take place by October-November. During the first year, 15,000 youth will receive training. Different training strategies will be used for diverse groups of youth-school dropouts, youth with higher secondary level qualification and those who have had college education.

The trainings will be of two types, for salaried employment and self employment. Seventy per cent funds will go for salaried employment training, and 30 per cent for self employment training.

Of the total expenditure of Rs 235.3 crore for the scheme (SEE J&K), Rs 70.59 crore will be met from existing budget of the Ministry of Rural Development under its SGSY Scheme to cover 75 per cent cost of training rural youth living under the Below Poverty Line (BPL). Remaining Rs 164.71 crore will be covered under special scheme for J&K to cover rural non-BPL, urban BPL and non-BPL youth.

“The objective of the scheme is to provide options and opportunities to all youth in J&K, ranging from school dropouts to college educated, to select training programmes for salaried or self-employment opportunities as per their interest,” the statement said.

Police reforms
The much awaited Police Reforms Act is scheduled to be tabled before the state legislature in the next session to be held at Srinagar. This police reforms Act is intended to give a new look to police as an organization.

Police is one of the biggest organizations in the state. A large number of people are either directly or indirectly associated with the police.

This act carries a series of reforms for the police department right from station level to top. Among the reforms the act will have a provision of creating the post of commissioners of police for the cities of Srinagar and Jammu as the populations of both the cities have crossed ten lakh, which is mandatory for the post of commissioner. The distribution of powers is another important provision of the police reforms act.

The Home department has prepared the act after studying the police reforms of various states of the country.  Principal Secretary, Home, B R Sharma told media persons that the Police Reforms Act is finally ready after approval from all quarters including chief minister. This act will remain in the public domain for a couple of months before valid suggestions will be incorporated into it. It will be available through the government website to elicit public opinion.

The introduction of the police reforms act was pending for quite a long time. It was scheduled to be introduced before the state legislature in the winter session held at Jammu. But its introduction was deferred due to some amendments which have now been incorporated into it.

Over to blocks
Nine phases of successful Panchayat polls have given enough of confidence to the administration to start making preparations for constituting 143 block development councils and 22 district planning and development boards. The 16-phase exercise aimed at electing 4130 Sarpanch’s and 29719 Panchs’ on non-party basis would conclude on June 16.

Officials in the chief electoral office said the process has been set in motion and once the results of the Panchayat polls are formally communicated to the state government, the law requires setting up of block development councils within 30 days. These councils possibly will be set up in August.

The Panchayat Raj has a three-tier system with district at its top. Unlike the Indian mainland the chairpersons of the district planning and development board will not be an elected person. Instead, the position will be retained by a minister as per the system in vogue. The vice chairperson, however, would be elected from among the chiefs of the block council. This is major departure from the system that has evolved in the country forcing BJP to campaign for incorporating 73rd amendment in the relevant law.

Barring a couple of incidents, the exercise remained incident free. In two cases the participants were attacked by insurgents. In one case the lady contesting polls died. Mohammad Maqbool Bhat, a candidate who was seeking election from a Sopore village survived the attack. Currently recuperating in the hospital, the 65-year old Bhat is undeterred. He told reporters that he will contest come what may.

At the same time, however, the exercise has identified certain areas where nobody is keen to contest. In Sopore, for instance, there are some villages where nobody has filed the nomination either for the positions of Panchs or the Sarpanch. It is almost the same situation in vast belts of south Kashmir Tral. Of the 430 berths of Panchs and 60 Sarpanchs’, nobody has filed nomination on 231 panch and 9 sarpanch berths as 135 panchs and 30 sarpanchs have won uncontested.

There was some interest in 65 panch segments and 43 sarpanch seats but the contestants withdrew their nominations creating a situation that now polls will be held on 37 panch seats and 21 sarpanch segments. The belt goes to polls early next month. Security officials say they were aware of certain bad patches which constitute just a miniscule of the state’s sprawling territory where the exercise remained highly successful.

More profits
After pocketing a neat Rs 615.20 crore net profit for the fiscal 2010-11, the private sector J&K Bank has announced the highest ever dividend of 260 percent (Rs 26 per share). Bank’s net profit has appreciated by 20 percent on Year-on-Year (YoY) basis as it put its operating profit at Rs 1149.49 crore for the last fiscal.

Bank’s business surged by Rs 10,000 crore – an appreciation by 18 percent, to reach the level of Rs 70,870 crore in a year. Deposits increased by 20 per cent to reach Rs 44,675 crore. Bank’s loan book surged by 14 per cent and stands at Rs 26,194 crore.

Bank continues to improve its fundamentals. Its net Non-Performing Assets (NPA) ratio has declined further to 0.20% from 0.28% in 2009-10. Against the regulatory norm of 70%, the provision coverage ratio of the bank was at 92.71% as on March 31. All significant ratios have registered satisfactory improvement during the year. Net worth at Rs. 3478.68 crore (up by 15.55%), earnings per share at Rs. 126.90 (up by 20%), book value at Rs. 717.58 (up by 15.55%) and NIM at 3.62% (up by 58 bps) reflect strong fundamentals of the bank.

“Despite challenges faced during the last financial year the new business strategy has enabled the Bank to convert the challenges into opportunities,” Chairman and CEO of the bank Mushtaq Ahmad said. “The results reflect implementation of business strategy aimed at qualitative and quantitative growth.” The bank, he said, has set a target of taking business to Rs 1,00,000 crore and profit to Rs 1000 crore by March 2013.

Apart from playing its role of a developmental financial institution in the state, Ahmad said the bank’s priority areas fall in agriculture, industry, and services sector of the state.

 Ahmad has informed the board of directors that for registering high volume business in rest of the country the bank will open new branches at all important commercial centres. During last year, the bank opened 16 new branches taking total network to 548 branches besides 35 extension counters. It also installed 73 new ATMs taking the number of operational machines to 361. Plans are afoot to increase the numbers to 600 during the current fiscal.

Rape of a minor
A 3 year old girl was raped in Chatergul village of South Kashmir by her 20 year old neighbour. The accused is a school drop-out.
Family members have alleged that the victim was playing in the compound when the accused lured her with sweets to an under construction house. It was here that the assault took place.

When the girl reached the house she was shivering and not in a state to even talk. She was crying. The family took her to a Primary health centre where doctors ‘confirmed’ that she had been “sexually assaulted”. Maternity and Children hospital, Islamabad, Medical Superintendent, Dr. Fazil Kochak said, “Though apparently it seemed that the girl was sexually assaulted, but the final report is expected to come on Wednesday and only then we can confirm whether the girl was raped or not”.

The incident triggered huge protest in the area and the protesters attacked the house of accused and set it ablaze. The villagers have also pleaded with Deputy Commissioner’s office to intervene and punish the accused. The Deputy Commissioner, Kifayat Rizvi said he was shocked to see the condition of minor victim. “The medical report is awaited and we will ensure that the accused is awarded strict punishment.” This is not the only act that has questioned the safety of girls in the state, a similar incident in Doda has also raised queries.

In Doda, a girl consumed poison after she was raped by her relative, who stayed in her house for a night when she was alone.

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