Kashmir ombudsman selection panel meet again put off

July 18th, 2011 - 7:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, July 18 (IANS) The much-awaited meeting to select the chairman and members of Jammu and Kashmir’s state accountability commission (SAC), the state equivalent of the Lokpal, was postponed here Monday as Chief Minister Omar Abdullah cancelled the day’s appointments as he was indisposed.

The SAC was brought into existence through an act of the Jammu and Kashmir legislature in 2003.

For nearly three years, the selection panel has not met to finalise the chairperson and members of the commission.

The selection panel comprises the chief minister, the speaker of the state legislative assembly, the chief justice of the state high court, the state law minister and the leader of opposition in the state assembly.

In 2010, the selection panel meeting had to be postponed because Leader of Opposition Mehbooba Mufti, president of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), was out of the country as member of the official Hajj delegation.

Reports here indicate that the PDP had sent feelers to the state government that it must disclose the names of those shortlisted for the high-profile selection before the panel meeting is held Monday.

A widely-circulated local English daily Monday carried the names of those shortlisted for the SAC selection, quoting sources who said the snames had been communicated to the selection panel members.

In 2009, the names of two retired judges of the state high court were recommended to the state governor as SAC members, but the governor had returned the recommendations, maintaining that these were made by the selection panel in the absence of Mehbooba Mufti as the leader of the opposition.

The one exception to the general disagreement over the selections between the government and the PDP has been G.R. Sofi, the chief information commissioner of the state whose name was approved by both with consensus last year.

As per the act, the state chief minister is covered within the ambit of the SAC.

Jammu and Kashmir has been the first state in the country to pass the accountability act in 2003 as also the Right to information (RTI) act in 2004 much before the centre did.

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