Towards Crisis

For the first time, the judiciary has stepped in and stayed the election results of the valley’s apex trading body, Kashmir Chambers of Commerce and Industry. Further delay in holding elections has raised apprehension among its members who allege the holdup is deliberate, Bilal Handoo reports.

On Sept 22, the stage was all set to elect new office bearers of valley’s apex trading body, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) at Nigeen Club in J&K’s summer capital Srinagar but the lack of consensus among the members of the body forced the sitting president to adjourn the proceedings. Till now, the election process remains postponed.

The KCCI met at the same venue after one week but one of the members, who had lost in the election of executive members held on Sept 14 obtained stay orders from the court and the whole process of choosing office bearers was stalled once again. The results of the KCCI executive committee elections in which 24 members participated were declared on Sept 22.  19 were declared winners for the final six executive committee posts for the year 2012-13.

Out of total 888 votes, 736 were casted while 64 were rejected. “The first phase of elections which remained peaceful saw 83 percent participation of voters. We had made adequate arrangements of security to ensure the smooth conduct of the polls which were held in democratic manner and in regard to constitutional obligations of KCCI,” the apex body said in a statement. As per its constitution, the KCCI had set up a polling sub-committee. “There were two scrutinizers; one from the J&K SIDCO and the other from J&K Bank.”

At the 78th Annual General Meeting of KCCI held on Sep 22, consensus eluded the members of the business body to elect its president and other executive committee. “The noisy scenes erupted in the meeting once the results were announced,” said the sitting president of KCCI, Abdul Hamid Punjabi who later adjourned the election process amid sloganeering by other members. While some members had pitched for giving second term to Punjabi, others strongly vouched for a young entrepreneur.

Highly placed sources in KCCI said the aspiring office bearers created ruckus on the spot by shouting slogans. “They were clearly unaware of Companies Act of KCCI constitution which makes the code of conduct of assuming the powers very clear. The members who were contesting played a spoilsport in the meeting by allowing many handpicked people to vote in the election. On the approval of the members, people can cast their vote in this election which is not a good sign as it can also lead to tampering of votes,” said one of the members wishing anonymity.

 Two KCCI members – Rajwant Singh and sitting General Secretary, Bilal Ahmad Kawoosa – lost the election. While Kawoosa remained placid, Rajwant Singh was miffed with the results and approached the session court in Srinagar wich issued a stay order on election proceedings. “It is for the first time in the history of KCCI elections that 64 votes were rejected which demands a judicial probe,” Singh said. Pertinently, vote counting was done by SIDCO, one of the custodians of KCCI, along with J&K Bank.

After the election of the executive committee members, the next step was the election of KCCI president and its office bearers but it was for the first time in the history of KCCI that the election of its office bearers and the president was deferred after the announcement of poll results of executive committee.

Due to chaotic scenes and slogans raised by the members, the past presidents of the KCCI, who were present at the meeting, decided to postpone the elections to the post of president till next week. Interestingly, last year’s KCCI elections had run into rough weather with some candidates seeking judicial intervention. However, a statement issued by KCCI said the election could not be held due to ‘technical reasons.’ “The deferred items of the agenda will be taken in the adjourned annual meeting to be convened shortly,” it said.

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