Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir government has reappointed Veena Pandita as Chairperson of J&K Board of School Education (JKBOSE) in violation of rules and procedures it had itself set for the recruitment.
The official advertisement notification for appointing a new Chairperson for JKBOSE was issued by the School Education Department on May 21 this year, after the two-year term of the incumbent, Veena Pandita, who was appointed to the post in 2018, expired in April.
While the department brought out the advertisement notification, it extended Pandita’s term for another two months till the time a permanent chairperson was appointed.
The upper age limit for the post as per the notification was fixed as 57 years, apart from other qualification criteria.
Principal Secretary, School Education Department, Asghar Samoon had himself shared the advertisement notification on his Twitter handle on May 23.
Earlier, on April 8, the department had also constituted a ‘Search Committee’ for suggesting a panel of potential candidates for the post.
The Search Committee, which was chaired by the Financial Commissioner, had Principal Secretary School Education Department, Secretary Higher Education Department, and Vice Chancellors of Kashmir and Jammu Universities as its members.
The said committee was asked to suggest the panel of candidates within fifteen days.
It was expected that a candidate from amongst the names recommended by the Search Committee would be appointed to the post, in accordance with the eligibility and age criteria laid down by the advertisement notification of May.
But last Monday, June 6, the government reappointed Pandita for another two years, even though she had crossed the upper age limit of 57 years, while sidelining at least four senior professors – two each from Kashmir University and Jammu University – who had applied for the post.
Kashmir Reader confirmed from official sources at JKBOSE that Pandita has crossed the upper age limit for the post as mentioned in the advertisement notification.
Asked how come the incumbent chairperson was reappointed to the post then, the sources quipped, “The way Article 370 was struck down. Might is right, you see.”
The senior professors who had applied for the post slammed the School Education Department for its “outright illegal move” which has made “a mockery of the system”.
“How can they take the system for granted like this? This is sheer mockery of the system,” one of the candidates said.
The aggrieved professors questioned why the chairperson’s post was even notified at all in the first place, “if the government was to cherry-pick a blue-eyed candidate.”
The professors also alleged that the search committee constituted for recommending potential candidates had never met and its recommendations never called for, a fact that one of the Search Committee members confirmed to Kashmir Reader.
The professors also complained that none of the four candidates who applied was even once called for an interaction.
A senior professor from Jammu University who had applied for the post told Kashmir Reader that the reappointment of the incumbent chairperson is “outright illegal” and can be challenged in court.
“If other candidates are willing, we will challenge it before the court,” the senior professor said.
Official sources at JKBOSE told Kashmir Reader that the government reappointing a chairperson in violation of the advertised age bar is in violation of norms.
As for the government’s version, Principal Secretary, School Education Department, Asgar Samoon, and J&K government’s official spokesperson, Rohit Kansal, both did not reply to repeated communiqués by this reporter asking their comments on the matter.