J&K Public Service Commission, 6 varsities remain without heads

SRINAGAR, Mar 3 (Agencies): Inordinate delay in constituting statutory commissions and vesting powers for the chancellorship of six universities in Jammu and Kashmir has become a serious impediment in the smooth functioning of these institutions of public interest.
Under the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, the term of office of members of the J&K public service commission and the Vigilance Commission ended on October 31, 2019.
Together with this, the State Information Commission and the State Accountability Commission also ceased to exist.
Although the State Information and the Accountability Commission have been wound up for good and their administrative staff shifted back for further deployment to the UT general administration department, J&K public service Commission and the Vigilance Commission have not been wound up.
But, since the members and chairpersons of these two commissions have not been appointed so far, legally these commissions also do not exist at present.
Interestingly, in spite of the fact that the Public Service Commission is yet to be reconstituted by appointment of new members and the chairperson, the secretary of the commission continues to issue guidelines, etc., through paid advertisements in local newspapers.
Legal and constitutional experts argue that the Public Service Commission does not exist unless it is reconstituted by appointment of its members.
“Legally speaking, the secretary draws his powers from the Commission which means its chairperson and members. When the Commission does not exist at present, there is no question of the secretary exercising powers which he inherits from the Commission as and when it comes into existence”, said a senior lawyer.
All the entry level appointments in the gazetted cadre of Jammu and Kashmir, including those in the civil services, police, accounts, medical and engineering departments, etc., are made by the Public Service Commission.
Unless the Commission is reconstituted by appointing its members, no direct appointment at the cutting edge gazetted level in any department of the UT can be made.
Around half a dozen recruitment processes will remain stalled till the Commission finds its members.
After the state was downgraded to a Union Territory (UT), the post of the Chancellor for six universities including the Jammu University, Kashmir University, Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University, Islamic University of Science and Technology (Awantipora), Jammu Agricultural University and Kashmir Agricultural University fell vacant.
As per the statutes of these universities, state Governor was the Chancellor of all of them.
A notification amending the statutes of these universities to designate the Lieutenant Governor as their Chancellor is yet to be issued.
“This has caused serious academic, financial and administrative problems in the smooth functioning of these institutions of highest learning in J&K”, said the Registrar of one of these universities who did want to be named.
In order to prove that a new era of employment and accountability is in the offing in Jammu and Kashmir, the first step would be the reconstitution of the Public Service Commission and the local Vigilance Commission in addition to the appointment of the Chancellor of six UT universities.

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