Perhaps for the first time in the legislative history, Jammu and Kashmir's upper house cannot operate its bank account.
A row between the state government and the upper house's deputy chairman over the appointment of the legislative council secretary has forced the Jammu and Kashmir Bank to temporarily freeze its account.
The controversy erupted after deputy chairman Arvinder Singh Micky, who is from the Congress, refused to obey a state cabinet order, appointing Muhammad Sayeed Shah as the new secretary to the legislative council. The ground cited was that he had already promoted deputy secretary Muhammad Ashraf Shah to the post as per the norms.
The J&K bank stopped all transactions after it received two separate letters - one from the deputy chairman and the other from the state law department authorising the signatures of their respective nominees with directions to entertain these.
"In order to know with whom the real authority lies, we have stopped the transactions/withdrawals in the said account till the controversy is resolved and the matter is fully cleared," the bank wrote in its separate letters to the two parties.
The tussle has not only affected the functioning of the legislative council ahead of the budget session, beginning February 28, but also taken a serious political turn.
The ruling National Conference (NC) and its coalition partner Congress are at loggerheads over the issue and refusing to budge from their respective stand.
J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah has maintained that the cabinet order would be implemented at all costs. His party colleague and law minister Ali Muhammad Sagar questioned Micky's stand. "The power to appoint the secretary, under secretary or additional secretary only lies with the state government. There is no super cabinet in the state," he said.
The matter has now reached the Congress high command. Micky reportedly met Congress president Sonia Gandhi and apprised her of the developments.