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Mehbooba-Ordered Probe Into KVIB Appointment Row Yet to Begin

While Mufti showed urgency in instituting a probe and nominated state chief secretary BB Vyas to head the inquiry team, the government order to start the investigation is awaited.

Mufti Islah | CNN-News18

Updated:March 6, 2018, 12:29 PM IST
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Mehbooba-Ordered Probe Into KVIB Appointment Row Yet to Begin
File image of Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. (Image: PTI)
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Srinagar: Last week, following a public outcry over the controversial appointment of her cousin in the Khadi Village Industries Board, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti ordered an inquiry into the selection. She also sought to clear her name after the Opposition accused her of favouritism.

While Mufti showed urgency in instituting a probe and nominated state chief secretary BB Vyas to head the inquiry team, the government order to start the investigation is awaited.

“No government order is there yet. The chief minister has called for a probe and the order would probably be ready in a few days,” said Khursheed Shah, Commissioner Secretary of General Administration Department.

“Orders are not made on media reports, but government decisions. A file needs to be put up,” he added.

The appointment of 37-year-old Aroot Madni, Mufti's maternal cousin, had enraged shortlisted candidates. They had alleged that he was favoured to get into the KVIB executive officers' list.

The public uproar prompted Aroot, who is the son of Sartaj Madni, Vice-President of the People's Democratic Party, to submit his resignation.

In a letter released to the press, he said his father's “spotless public life was more important to him than a job which he got on merit”.

Nonetheless, he said, he was giving it up. He said that since the candidates have been selected on merit, they should not be made a scapegoat.

However, News18 is in possession of a letter of the state's Law secretary, who was appointed as controller examination for KVIB, in which he raises questions about the fairness of the selection process.

The letter written to the IGP of the state's CID states that the exam process was rigged right from the start — much before the interview stage.

Law Secretary Abdul Majid Bhat writes about “some unfair means” reported during the conduct of written exams.

Bhat further asks the CID to make in-depth verification so that the examination process remains transparent and no one is favoured.

Earlier, the appointment of Aroot Madni in the autonomous KVIB had prompted dropped candidates to file an RTI seeking their marks in the written test and interview.

One candidate had even written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of his interview, expressing fears of nepotism and malpractices.

But Peer Mansoor, vice chairman of the KVIB and a close aide of the CM, said proper recruitment rules were followed.

“This is the fairest selection in the history of KVIB. We are nowhere in the picture. There is no question of any hanky-panky,” the PDP functionary said.

News18 has learnt that norms were ignored in the selection process. For instance, 49 candidates were called for interview for three posts in the open merit category against prescribed three or five for each post.

“A ratio of three-to-one or maximum five-to-one is a norm to fill vacancies in the state, but here they had a bus load of candidates to interview. Wonder what was the written test for if so many were to gate-crash the interview,” rued a dropped candidate.

Some candidates called for the interview meant for open merit (OM) were drawn from Scheduled Tribe (ST) and Rural Backward Area (RBA) categories and eventually one ST candidate took up a place in OM.

Rashid Qadri, KVIB secretary, insists, “The ST candidate from Leh scored more than the OM candidate and that is why he figured in the list. We haven't deprived a seat to a meritorious,” he said.

News18 spoke to dropped candidates who alleged the outsourcing of the exam to a private agency was to favour the influential.

“The state recruitment agencies are credible and capable of holding fair exams for a large number of candidates. The private agency was employed to rig the exams,” they added.

They said that had the KVIB engaged Jammu and Kashmir Services Selection and Recruitment Board (JKSSRB), which conducts all such exams for non-gazetted posts, selection would have been fair.

They said 60 marks instead of 80 were kept for written, 30 (it is otherwise 20) for interview and 10 for experience. “The weightage for experience was not used at all,” another candidate said, adding, “This was done to manipulate selection for the blue-eyed.”

Qadri, however, argues that the selection process was fair. “Our vice chairman's nephew could not make it. It should tell the process was very transparent.”

The candidates, however, want the list to be quashed and officials who were part of exams and selection process to be removed for a fair inquiry.

“No inquiry can be fair if the officials are not removed. They can influence the inquiry,” said a candidate.

“The controller examination has himself admitted the exams were not fair. So the list needs to be quashed and fresh dates for exams announced.”

The KVIB had advertised various posts, including that of executive officer, on October 8, 2016.

The shortlisted candidates appeared in the written test in August 2017 and the interviews were held in the last week of January.

The KVIB had placed an advertisement for 101 posts, including six for Executive Officer in 2016. Approximately 60,000 applications were entertained for the candidates to write the exams.
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