Srinagar: A couple of months ago, The Kashmir Press has reported that how goverenment was seriously considering to split the administrative powers of Jammu and Kashmir bank by taking away the charge of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) from the Chairman bank.
The Kashmir Press reported that the government was contemplating that financial commissioner should be the CEO while the bank chairman would continue to serve upon his position, but stripped of administrative powers.
Finally on November 24, the State Administrative Council (SAC) headed by J&K Governor Satyapal Malik decided to turn the J&K Bank Ltd into a public-sector bank, taking its autonomy away and making it accountable to the state legislature.
Further, the SAC stated that the bank will be also brought under the ambit of the J&K RTI Act and the Central Vigilance Commission.
The government holds 53 percent share in the bank.
Much harsher measure than splitting alone administrative powers
Far from splitting the powers of the bank chairman, the government, by declaring the JK bank as public unit, has fully brought it under its control.
This means that the bank will now on wards will come under the full purview of the finance department.
This step taken by the government apparently seems to be much harsher than the one reported by The Kashmir Press.
Even as a segment of opinion has spoken against the government decision, that the decision would curtail the autonomy of the bank, but the facts were speaking different- bank was not functioning well.
The piling of the Non Performing Assets (NPA’s) and increasing reports of backdoor appointments were not putting question mark on the functioning of the bank, things like demanding donations arbitrarily from the employees for Kerala floods were equally bringing disrepute.
Not only the present governor led dispensation, the former governor N.N Vohra too was unhappy with the functioning of the bank. It was during his stint that the government wanted to strip off administrative powers of the bank Chairman.
According to the government, the bank has registered whopping Rupees 6000 crore as NPA’s while as the recruitment scandal added to the worsening problems faced.
The question still making rounds in Kashmir is that bank should disclose the identity of those people who have shown NPA’s. Whether they are Kashmiris or non-Kashmiris?
According to The Kashmir Press sources, bulk of the NPA holders of the JK bank are from outside Kashmir.
However, things will become clear only when the names are put in the public, as obviously, it has the potential to open the cane of worms.
How JK bank targetted The Kashmir Press for its stories
Instead of resorting to corrective measures to improve the bank functioning, the bank, as usual, shifted blame on the reports carried out by The Kashmir Press which exposed the rot in the bank as far as NPA’s, backdoor appointments and other things like demanding donations arbitrarily from the employees for Kerala floods are concerned.
The Kashmir Press tried to set a culture of accountability which, in turn, would have proved beneficial for the bank.
But, the bank tried to rescue itself by trying to portray the news media outlet was carrying “motivated and fabricated stories”.
The bank sent four legal notices to The Kashmir Press office after it published a story that how government wanted to strip powers of the chairman bank, currently held by Parvez Ahmad Nengroo.
It also threatened The Kashmir Press with the legal action, if it did not remove the story and tendered unconditional apology. It stated;
““The write-up under reference is nothing but a bundle of lies, published with the ulterior motive of tarnishing fair name and brand image of Jammu and Kashmir bank. The write-up has brought disrepute and defamed the bank in the estimation of not only its stake holders but the public at large. It has impacted reputation of the bank and sentiments of the investors”.
Besides, the bank also filed the complaint against The Kashmir Press with the police in a bid to pile up the pressurre and refrain the news outlet from reporting on the bank affairs.
The climax reached when even government rebutted the report of The Kashmir Press that it was planning to split posts in the Jammu and Kashmir bank.
“The State Government has strongly denied the speculative reports regarding splitting of the positions of the Chairman and CEO in the J&K Bank,” the official spokesman said.
“There is no such proposal under the consideration of the government,” he said.
The spokesman further made it clear that all the decisions regarding the affairs of the J&K Bank are taken by the bank’s Board of Directors under the regulatory framework laid down by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
If government now has turned the bank into a public sector, why it rebutted the The Kashmir Press stories? Who was behind it? Why they did it so?
The officials in the information department said they had not rebutted the story, but as usual, they get press notes from the respective departments, which they just forward to the media.
The questions should also be asked why the media did not played its role of watchdog, and instead, came in support of the bank by carrying out their advertisements, rebutting the Kashmir Press stories.
If the bank was not doing well, NPA’s were piling up, why the media attained silence. So did the “corporate” sector.
The irony was such that the meeting convened by the former Governor Vohra, in which he took the bank officials to task on pending debts, was not even reported by the majority of the media outlets in Kashmir.
As soon as the present governor Satya Pal Sharma Malik took over the office, during his first meeting with the bank chairman on September 03, told him to consolidate the “Bank’s functioning on every front and clean up all bad debts“.
The governor Malik in an interview to news channel confessed that he found the 582 candidates, who qualified Jammu and Kashmir Bank examinations, were sidelined by the politicians in the PDP-BJP coalition government to adjust their relatives and workers.
Afterwards, he retracted from his statement.
Now by taking complete control of the Jammu and Kashmir bank, and taking slew of measures like transferring 32 of its employees including the “face” of the bank, it seems the government is serious about setting the things right.
Let the psoitive change happen.