Appointment of Ombudsman for ULBs in limbo

Law Department Answers 4th Query From H&UDD In 2 Years


Jammu, Dec 19: For the fourth time in two years, state’s Law Department has answered queries by Housing and Urban Development Department regarding appointment of Ombudsman for Urban Local Bodies, but the matter still hangs in balance.
Official sources told Greater Kashmir that since the enactment of JK Municipal Ombudsman Act two years ago, the matter is caught in a feud between Housing & Urban Development Department and Law Department putting a question mark on the sincerity of the government in appointing Ombudsman for Urban Local Bodies.
They said Housing and Urban Development Department had returned the file to the Law Department for the fourth time seeking bio-data of five retired judges and two advocates recommended by the Law Department for the post of Ombudsman.
“We have once again cleared the file and replied the queries put forth by the HUDD,” Secretary Law, GH Tantray told Greater Kashmir.
He admitted that the matter was facing “undue” delay but said the onus lies on the department which has to constitute the body as per the recommendations of 13th Finance Commission. “Instead of forwarding the file to Chief Minister, Housing and Urban Development Department has adopted an unclear policy towards the appointment of Ombudsman for the Urban Local Bodies,” Tantray said.
The panel, which has been recommended, include retired district judges DC Sagotra, J K Pandita, Muhammad Nazir Fida, Sheikh Altaf and Gauss-un-Nisa and two advocates Syed Muhammad Sharief Geelani and Shamima.
Sources said that since October 25, 2010, the file never reached the Chief Minister and the matter continues to be a bone of contention between the two departments.
In September 2011, the Law Department recommended the name of Justice (retd) B A Kirmani for the post of Ombudsman. However, due to delay on the part of Housing and Urban Development Department in clearing his name, the former Judge of the High Court was appointed as President of J&K Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.
This provided opportunity for HUDD for the second time to ask State Law Department to recommend fresh candidates.
Subsequently, Law department earlier this year recommended a panel of four persons including three former Judges of the High Court and a Senior Advocate.
“But, instead of selecting any one from the panel, HUDD again unnecessarily returned the file to the Law Department on the ground that it was interested in broad-based selection process,” sources claimed.
This compelled State Law Department to recommend another panel comprising of five retired District and Sessions Judges.
“The delay resulting due to unnecessary formalities shows that state government is not interested to fill the Ombudsman post,” an official preferring anonymity revealed.
As per the guidelines under 13th Finance Commission, Ombudsman for the Urban Local Bodies is to be appointed by the Governor on the advice of the Chief Minister, who before approaching the Governor is required to consult the Chairman of Legislative Council, Speaker of Legislative Assembly and the Leader of Opposition.

Lastupdate on : Wed, 19 Dec 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 19 Dec 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 20 Dec 2012 00:00:00 IST

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