Selection of Mehbooba’s cousin, others quashed in Khadi board

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Srinagar : The Jammu and Kashmir Government has quashed the selection of 101 candidates, including Aroot Madni, cousin of former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, as executive officer in the Khadi and Village Industries Board (KVIB) during the PDP-BJP government.

The decision was taken after an inquiry committee, which was constituted to probe the alleged irregularities, termed the whole appointment process as flawed and deviating rules.

In a seven-page order issued on June 28, Principal Secretary, Industries and Commerce, Navin Choudhary, said: “All selections made in the KVIB pursuant to the advertisement notice No. KVIB/01 of 2016 dated 08.10.2016 are quashed/ cancelled.”

The Tribune on February 24, 2017, had exclusively reported that the Mehbooba-led PDP-BJP government appointed her cousin Madni as the executive officer of the KVIB in addition to other candidates in violation of rules and merit. The report incurred sharp public criticism to Mehbooba’s government which a day after ordered a probe into the allegations of illegal appointment of candidates.

At the time of appointments, the KVIB Vice-Chairman was PDP leader Peer Mansoor who was working under then BJP minister Chandra Prakash Ganga. Madni’s father Sartaj Madni, who is maternal uncle of Mehbooba, was the vice-president of the PDP.

Choudhary said the KVIB would provide an opportunity of being heard to all candidates appointed to different categories of posts pursuant to the advertisement notice dated October 8, 2016, and fulfil all formalities required under law before cancelling the appointment of these candidates.

The inquiry committee headed by the then Home Secretary RK Goel said in its report that extensive efforts had been made to ascertain all facts relating to the entire recruitment process, which became a subject matter of a high-level inquiry.

“The committee is of the considered view that the entire process suffers from various deficiencies/flaws as brought out in chapters-III, IV and V. The committee, therefore, recommends that the entire process be quashed and initiated de novo, after following the due procedure.”

A dropout candidate Iftikhar Ashraf said: “It is a welcome step by the government, but at the same time, justice delayed is justice denied. In addition to politicians, the blame goes equally to bureaucrats for promoting corruption, incompetence and nepotism in the system. By these blatant corrupt practices, the government is telling the unemployed educated youth that they don’t have a place to work in J&K.”

The committee, after conducting a detailed inquiry, submitted its report to the government, observing that an agenda item was placed before the Board of Directors on October 3, 2017, regarding the criteria for the selection against the posts advertised vide advertisement notice dated October 8, 2016.

It is not forthcoming from the records whether the decision of the Board of Directors meeting, held on October 3, 2017, was suitably conveyed to the Controller of the Examination for appropriate action.

The KVIB authorities had ignored the criteria given in the advertisement notice whereby 10 marks were earmarked for experience in the relevant field and 30 marks for viva voice.

The selection criteria adopted was not recommended by any expert committee, but was proposed by the Vice Chairman of the Board (Mansoor) and approved by its Chairman, who was BJP Minister for Industries and Commerce (Ganga).

The criteria adopted in the selection process was not in accordance with the recommendations of the committee constituted in the year 2012 nor as per the criteria being adopted by other recruiting agencies, it said.

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