Parliamentary panel to probe the appointment
Srinagar: The Composite Regional Centre (CRC) – for skill development, rehabilitation and empowerment for persons with disabilities – has appointed its director in clear violation of eligibility norms as well as of directives from the Central government.
“The chosen candidate is not even eligible for the post,” sources at the CRC told Kashmir Reader. “His qualification and experience fall well short of the requirements for the post.”
But that is not the whole story, there is more to it, the source said.
The CRC is an initiative of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India, and falls within the jurisdiction of Pt Deendayal Upadhyaya Institute for Persons with Physical Disabilities (PDUNIPPD).
The appointments at the CRC are made by PDUNIPPD. Amid the Covid-19 lockdown of 2019, applications were sought for the appointment of a director at the CRC, in violation of the Central government’s directive of abolishing the post.
“The post of the director was abolished and needs to be revived by the Ministry of Finance, Department of Expenditure,” the sources said, adding that the PDUNIPPD went ahead with advertising the post regardless.
In response, six applications were received for the post. In June 2020, the authorities at PDUNIPPD scrutinised the applications, found four applicants ineligible, and shortlisted two for the post.
“Among the four rejected candidates was Dr Mir Zafar Iqbal, and ironically, he was the one who was chosen to head CRC on a deputation basis,” the sources said, adding that all norms and all directives were thrown to the wind by PDUNIPPD while they made this appointment.
The initial rejection of Mir was based on certain technical issues which still remain valid after his appointment. One, his post-graduate degree in Normal Psychology is not a course recognised by the Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI).
“And this has been proven through an RTI filed with the RCI. Mir has a postgraduate degree in normal psychology, which renders him ineligible,” the sources said. A copy of the RTI is in possession of Kashmir Reader, along with all other documents.
Two, the guidelines for deputation rules seek a 9-year prior experience of qualifying service, along with a vigilance clearance certificate for eligibility. But Mir does not fit here as well.
“And that is because he was appointed an Assistant Professor at CRC in December 2014 and by the time of his appointment as the director, he has only 5 years of experience,” the sources said.
Following the appointment, the other aggrieved candidates and some other people have filed repeated RTIs, seeking information on this appointment that so clearly violates the norms.
In March this year, the J&K Handicapped Association also filed an RTI to a PRO of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, seeking details regarding the appointment,” the sources revealed.
Perturbed with the callous approach the officials have exhibited towards the RTIs, the J&K Handicapped Association wrote to Dr Virendra Kumar Khatik, the Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, on July 12 this year.
“The letter seems to have ruffled some feathers and finally a Parliamentary delegation has been appointed to visit Kashmir and look into the discrepancies in this appointment,” the sources said.
Kashmir Reader tried reaching Rama Devi, who is on the panel of Chairpersons of the Lok Sabha and has been included in the delegation that will visit Kashmir. “We will be in Srinagar on September 7,” her assistant told Kashmir Reader over the phone.