PSC selections: PDP-BJP govt too prefers politics over norms

A civil services aspirant, Riyaz Ahmad of south Kashmir’s Kulgam district, visited the J&K Public Service Commission office here on Monday to inquire about the new dates for the Kashmir Administrative Service (KAS) examination.
PSC selections: PDP-BJP govt too prefers politics over norms
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A civil services aspirant, Riyaz Ahmad of south Kashmir's Kulgam district, visited the J&K Public Service Commission office here on Monday to inquire about the new dates for the Kashmir Administrative Service (KAS) examination.

"You will get the information through newspapers. It will take some more time," a PSC employee, who was basking in the sun, told Riyaz. He sighed, didn't utter a word, and left.

Riyaz was an exception to visit the PSC—which makes selections for state civil services and other top jobs—these days.

Kashmir's civil services aspirants have stopped visiting the Commission to know about the dates of the examination, postponed many months ago.

They are not the only ones let down by the Government.

Those who qualified the prestigious examination almost a year ago—99 KAS officers to be precise—too have stopped knocking the doors of the Commission in connection with their first appointment.

June 16 marked seventh straight month of the defunct Commission. And when Raj Bhavan returned the panel of nominated PSC Chairman and its members, yet again, to PDP-BJP Government last Thursday, the mishandling of the selection body by the coalition partners, who rose to power on promises of safeguarding and restoring credibility of the institutions, became evident.

A senior official reflected on the defunct Commission: "It's a fact that the Commission is a political tool in the hands of parties in power who are keen to secure their share in selection of Chairman and members."

In May this year, a red-faced PDP-led coalition Government had to withdraw the panel of PSC nominees after it was alerted about "tainted past" of two shortlisted candidates—GR Baghat (ex-bureaucrat) and Prof Rishi Dogra (former police officer)– in the panel.

By then, the Governor NN Vohra had already vetoed another panel in February this year which was proposed by the previous regime, citing non-adherence to the rules.

The redrafted panel which the PDP-BJP Government send to the Governor on June 23 for his nod comprised of nine nominees, but had only two names from the May list.

There was no word from the Government on why it finalized one group of names in May only to withdraw it later to nominate new faces in June.

In its fag end of tenure, the previous Government took the matter of electing the PSC body to its Coordination Committee, only bringing to fore the politics being played behind the selection process. It ended up getting a snub from Raj Bhavan.

The present establishment is continuing with the political practice adopted by its predecessors and in the process marring the prestige of the PSC.

Sources said the redrafted nominations returned by Raj Bhavan on June 26, was discussed by PDP and BJP in their 'political cabinet' before forwarding it to the Governor's office. Again, the political intent in a purely administrative process became apparent.

"Both the parties (PDP and BJP) came up with their list of candidates in the meeting," sources said.

A senior PDP Minister candidly said: "The fault was with BJP, not us. The questions were raised on names they suggested." He was referring to the list of nominees that was withdrawn by the Government which included two tainted names.

But he had no response as to why State Government was putting itself in embarrassing situation by submitting to Raj Bhavan incomplete details about the nominations.

"I don't deal with it, so how can I answer it," the minister said.

The Government is also courting controversy by avoiding procedure laid down by the Supreme Court and emphasized to by the Governor earlier this year for making the nominations.

Under it, the search committee headed by the Chief Secretary has to finalize a list of probable and forward it to the Apical Committee headed by the Chief Minister.

But the process has been limited to papers only.

"Politics has taken the front seat. The Commission has become a rehabilitation center and everybody knows that appointments are made on political considerations," said the official. "The Governor has stressed in categorical terms on following laid down procedure on nominations. Can he now afford to overlook his own directions?"

In opposition, both PDP and BJP would attack the National Conference and Congress Government for lowering the status of the Commission.

In its four months of rule, the PDP-BJP coalition too has chosen politics over the norms as far as re-constitution of the recruiting agency is considered.

Amid all these unfolding events, the prestige of the defunct PSC continues to fall, the civil service aspirants say.

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