A day after dissolving the Jammu and Kashmir assembly, a fresh decision by Governor Satya Pal Malik on Thursday has kicked off a massive row in the already heated political arena in the state. The State Administrative Council, currently led by the Governor, has decided to turn J&K Bank Ltd into a public sector bank. […]
A day after dissolving the Jammu and Kashmir assembly, a fresh decision by Governor Satya Pal Malik on Thursday has kicked off a massive row in the already heated political arena in the state. The State Administrative Council, currently led by the Governor, has decided to turn J&K Bank Ltd into a public sector bank. The decision effectively means that J&K Bank will lose its autonomy and will have accountability towards the state legislature. It will also come under the purview of J&K RTI Act and the Central Vigilance Commission. Interestingly, the decision makes the bank answerable to state legislature only, which means it will not be accountable to the central government.
Under the earlier provisions, the bank was classified as an ‘old private sector bank’ and was supervised by the Reserve Bank of India and is subject to oversight by the CAG.
The decision has triggered a political outburst by the major political parties of Jammu & Kashmir, with the PDP and the NC registering strong objections to the move. Former Chief Minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah termed the decision a “disturbing development” and said the Governor doesn’t hold people’s mandate to take such major decisions with far-reaching implications.
PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti also termed the decision as “disturbing” and saw it as an attempt to “snatch autonomy” of J&K’s institutions. Peoples Conference leader Sajjad Lone also registered his protest saying that the decision amounted to overarching government control.
“We believe in smaller government, not more government control. The best thing the government of the day can do is to get out of the way. Any remedies (regarding J&K Bank) should have been institution-specific, rather than invading it with overarching government control. The track record of J&K government PSUs is extremely bad,” he said.
The state government holds the majority share of 59.3 per cent stake in the bank. A listed entity, the bank earned profits of Rs 440.90 crore on a total income of Rs 7,116.71 crore in 2017-18, official data said. Mehbooba Mufti said that there were clear signs suggesting Centre’s interventions to take away the autonomy of institutions that J&K enjoyed.
“J&K Bank is part of that. This is why we came together with NC and Congress to form a government and prevent such interventions,” she said.
The development comes amid big political drama in the strategically sensitive state of Jammu and Kashmir. Governor Satya Pal Malik had dissolved state assembly on Friday, minutes after former CM Mehbooba Mufti had staked claim over the government with the support of rival Congress and National Conference. The three mainstream state parties had expressed shock over the Governor’s decision. The parties slammed Governor Malik of working at the behest of the Centre.