Srinagar: Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Thursday organised a protest rally demanding the revocation of the recent government order on J&K Bank declaring it to be as a Public Sector Undertaking (PSU).
Several PDP leaders, activists were led by former works minister Naeem Akhtar rallied from the party headquarters and marched towards the Press Enclave in Srinagar, summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir.
However, a police party intercepted them at Polo View and prevented them from marching ahead.
The protesters were chanting slogans like ‘JK Bank Is Ours’, and ‘Roll Back SAC decision’.
“Turning J&K Bank into a PSU is an assault on the economy of Jammu and Kashmir. We want to tell governor Sahab to revoke it,” said Akhtar while talking to reporters. “We won’t relent (until the order is revoked).”
Until recently, the bank had been classified as an “old private sector bank” and supervised by the RBI, while also being subject to oversight by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).
Following the Governor-led State Administrative Council (SAC)’s approval of the proposal for treating Jammu and Kashmir Bank Limited as a Public Sector Undertaking (PSU), mainstream regional parties criticized the move,m ost recently by JK People’s Conference chief Sajad Lone.
The Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik, in an interview with Indian Express, stated that only people with “personal or political interests” in J&K Bank are opposing the move to turn the bank into a Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) and the opposition is “without merit”.
On Tuesday, Lone had tweeted, “I register my unambiguous rejection of changes being made in the J and K bank. And it needs to [be] bereft of Govt control not drowned in Govt control. This is literally the sole lending institution and lending decisions should be commercial decisions outside the ambit of politics.”
Former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had called the move a “disturbing step to snatch every bit of autonomy that our institutions have”. She disclosed on social media that she had spoken to Finance Minister of India Artun Jaitley had been assured of his government looking into the matter.
The National Conference rallied against the move and demanded a rollback of the SAC decision.
Top constitutional experts of Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday had said that Jammu and Kashmir Bank after its declaration as a public sector bank was now fully under the administrative and financial control of the Jammu and Kashmir government and the authority of the bank chairman had 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 had 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 had 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.”
Retired High Court Judge Justice Hasnain Masoodi on Saturday had said that extension of RTI to J&K Bank would end obstructionism and repression and promote transparency in the top financial institution of the state.
Masoodi had 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.”
The state of J&K holds a majority 59.3-per cent stake in the bank.
While approving the proposal, the government had stated that the purpose was not to question the day-to-day activities of the bank management but a step toward ‘strengthening better corporate governance’.