“RTI best tool to improve bank’s transparency, makes it subject to judicial review”
Srinagar: Welcoming the decision of the Jammu and Kashmir government to bring Jammu and Kashmir Bank within the ambit of RTI, retired High Court Judge Justice Hasnain Masoodi on Saturday said that extension of RTI to J&K Bank will end obstructionism and repression and promote transparency in the top financial institution of the state.
Masoodi said, “Till now we had no right to know anything about the working of the bank but with Government bringing Jammu and Kashmir Bank within the ambit of RTI, the people now have a right to know about the non performing accounts through which defaulters have taken one thousand crores and with the application of RTI obstructionism and repression will end in the Jammu and Kashmir Bank.”
Saying that people from outside Jammu and Kashmir have taken huge loans from the bank but are not repaying, Justice (Rtd) Masoodi said, “Recovery teams beat drums at the doors of locals who take small loans but no recovery campaign is launched against the people in other states of the country who have taken huge loans from the bank without any mortgage or third party guarantee. When it comes to the sanction of loan for a resident of Jammu and Kashmir, the Bank seeks every guarantee including the land mortgage for small loans.”
Raising questions on recruitment, Justice (Rtd) Masoodi said, “Against 350 sanctioned vacancies, the bank recently appointed 2500 candidates including the 589 candidates appointed on the directions of Governor Satya Pal Malik. During last three years more than 2000 banking associates were appointed through backdoor without following the proper procedure.”
Saying that with RTI applicable to Jammu and Kashmir Bank, the candidates and the general public will have the right to know about the process of recruitments and selections in the bank, Justice (Rtd) Masoodi said, “Till now the Jammu and Kashmir Bank was not subject to judicial review but now it is subject to judicial review after being brought into the ambit of RTI.”
However, some believe otherwise.
Top constitutional experts of Jammu and Kashmir say that Jammu and Kashmir Bank after its declaration as a public sector bank is now fully under the administrative and financial control of the Jammu and Kashmir government and the authority of the bank chairman has been reduced to the extent of the managing director of a public sector corporation.
However they said that a popular government if put in place has the powers to roll back such orders by a simple cabinet decision.
Leading constitutional expert and senior advocate at Jammu and Kashmir High Court, Zaffar Ahmad Shah said, “The Jammu and Kashmir Bank after its declaration as a public sector bank by Governor Satya Pal Malik has now come under the complete administrative and financial control of the government. The chairman of the bank is now like a managing director of any public sector corporation of the state government and the government has now the power and authority to nominate members for the board of directors, the highest decision making body of the bank.”
PDP President Mehbooba Mufti in a statement demanded the immediate rollback of the decision. She said that such decisions which “smack of attempts to fiddle with the basic characters of the state’s special status.”
(With inputs from KNS)