The Jammu and Kashmir State Accountability Commission has asked the state government to explain how it had granted minister of state status to politicians heading various corporations.
The state Accountability Commission is equivalent to the Lokayukta in other states.
The Commission sought an inquiry into the appointment of the heads of the corporations and issued notice to chief minister Omar Abdullah and 11 others, including the chairpersons of the Jammu and Kashmir State Commission, Pahari speaking board, Gujjar and Bakerwal board and two advisors to the chief minister to appear before the commission in person or through their authorised agents on March 5.
This is the first major action taken by the SAC after it was revived last year.
While making this historic order the commission ordered that a copy of the order should be sent to the state governor. The State Accountability Commission comprises Justice YP Nargotra (rtd), the Chairperson, and Justice Hakim Imtiyaz Hussain (rtd), Member.
The SAC, after perusal of the records raised a legal question, "that post of Advisor and Political Advisor to the chief minister have not been shown to be the creation of any statute or the constitution of Jammu and Kashmir. It is being claimed by the government that the posts were created and filled up by the government in exercise of its administrative/ executive discretion."
SAC referred to the constitutional mandate and observed that under the "Scheme of the Constitution, however, the executive power of the state is vested in the governor to be exercised by him directly or through a person or authority as he may direct. No order issued by the governor delegating any such power in favour of the Government or any authority has been brought to our notice as yet."
It further observed, "No person unless appointed in accordance with law under the State can legally be entitled to deal with the affairs of the State and the payment of any remuneration therefore. Any appointment made and any remuneration paid without authority of law by the Government would be nothing but a political favour at the cost of public exchequer."
These significant directions have been issued in a complaint filed by Wali Mohd Rather initially against Khem Lata Wakhloo, chairperson J&K Social Welfare Board in which the principal allegation made is that she is enjoying the salary, perks and other amenities admissible to a minister of state without being legally entitled thereto.