Impunity in JK Bank

The Chief Minister Friday advised the people to invoke the jurisdiction of the State Vigilance Organization (SVO) or the Accountability Commission (SAC) to get irregularities in Jammu Kashmir bank probed. He was responding to queries from media persons regarding backdoor appointments in the Jammu Kashmir Bank. A few years ago, the SVO sought some files from a branch of Jammu Kashmir Bank. The officials rushed to the High Court and got a judgment that JK bank was not a government department and its employees not government employees. The SVO or the SAC, for the information of the Chief Minister have no jurisdiction over the bank. The Jammu Kashmir bank is a company and a lower court stayed call of files by the SVO.  The Chief Minister also said that the bank had its own vigilance wing to probe irregularities if any. But, this is against the principals of natural justice. Nobody can be a judge in his own cause and the history of the bank reflects that nobody above the rank of AGM has ever been punished for any misgivings. The irony is that even a writ petition can’t be filed against the bank. Last year the Chief Information Commission (CIC) in its historic judgement   declared the bank a public authority and brought it under the purview of the RTI Act. The authorities did not like it and again a petition was filed in the high court challenging the CIC’s order. The petition was allowed. The only remedy available against the bank is a civil suit. But it takes more than decade to decide a civil suit and therefore, no purpose is served. Why does the Bank need so much of impunity? Even Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) does not restrain a state to file a charge sheet against an erring soldier. It can be filed but the case of Jammu Kashmir Bank is different. The officials enjoy `uncontrolled’ impunity to `grant loans, open accounts and give pension to widows’. This seems ridiculous and smacks of foul play. For a common good, there has to be absolute transparency in a bank. It runs on public money and the public has every right to know what is happening with their hard earned resources. The bank is a company and the registrar of companies has enough power to seek an explanation from the bank chairman. The culture of impunity has to end. The sooner it dawns on the authorities the better.