SIC, state commission for women headless, cases pile-up

In absence of a chairperson the working of the commission has come to a standstill.

SHAFAQ SHAH
Srinagar, Publish Date: Nov 16 2018 10:22PM | Updated Date: Nov 16 2018 10:22PM
SIC, state commission for women headless, cases pile-upRepresentational Pic

The State Information Commission and the State Commission for Women in Jammu and Kashmir have been headless for months following imposition of Governor’s rule, causing anxiety among appellants.

Days after the collapse of the PDP-BJP coalition government in June, heads of the Commission for Women and State Information Commission stepped down upholding established conventions.

While Nayeema Mehjoor stepped down from the women commission as a result of the demise of the state government, chief of the Information Commission, Khurshid Ahmad Ganai, who was not a political appointee, resigned on June 29 before being appointed advisor to the Governor.

The Governor’s administration has not found replacements for the two important posts yet leaving the statutory institutions without any commissioners.

Functions of the women commission include investigating and examining all matters relating to the safeguard provided for women under the constitution and other laws, present to the government reports on the working of those safeguards and make recommendations to the government on improving the condition of women in the state.

The commission also reviews existing legislation in the state affecting women and makes recommendations for amendments to such legislation, and takes up cases of violation of women’s rights with appropriate authorities.

In absence of a chairperson the working of the commission has come to a standstill.

“The (Women) commission as of now is defunct. People are registering their cases with the commission but proceedings are not going on,” said an official working at the commission office.

“Hundreds of cases are heard and resolved also, but in absence of a chairperson women are suffering as their cases pile up in the commission.”

The functioning of the State Information Commission is also similarly affected with just a single Information Commissioner managing all its affairs.

The commissioner, at present is in Jammu and, is attending cases there but has to also travel to Srinagar for attending to cases. According to established rules the SIC must dispose of a complaint within 120 days.

The Jammu and Kashmir RTI Act 2009 mandates that the information commission shall consist of two State Information Commissioners and Chief Information Commissioner.

An RTI activists said in absence of the Chief Information Commissioner accountability takes a hit.

“Obviously when a department becomes headless, people tend to take it for granted and this is happening with the Information Commission. People (officials) are not responding to RTIs and are delaying it as much as they can,” said the activist, MM Shuja.

“One person is handling the commission this time. He is overburdened with responsibilities; he has to attend cases in Jammu as well as in Srinagar.”

Earlier, when Dr SK Sharma retired as State Information Commissioner in 2015, the government failed to appoint a new SIC, and in March 2016 Chief Information Commissioner, GR Sufi retired followed by Information Commissioner Nazir Ahmad in November.

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