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J&K Govt orders probe into IMPA faculty appointments amid accusations of nepotism

The probe into Kashmir Institute of Management appointments is among the latest steps against corruption undertaken under stewardship of J&K LG Manoj Sinha

Srinagar: The Union Territory Government has ordered a high level and time-bound enquiry into the appointment of faculty members of the Jammu and Kashmir Institute of Management, Public Administration and Rural Development (IMPA).

The Government order, dated Jan 23, said that a four-member committee would inquire into the ‘violation of rules’ in the IMPA faculty appointments and submit its report to the Government within one month. It did not mention any specific period of the appointments.

The Committee shall look into irregularity of the IMPA Governing Council meetings “over the last five years and whether the matter involving irregular appointments was ever brought to the notice of the Members of the Governing Council,” the order states.

“The Committee shall also evaluate the overall functioning of the IMPARD over the last five years and submit its recommendations for improving work/academic environment, management efficiencies and institutional integrity on a sustainable basis”, it added.

Financial Commissioner and Additional Chief Secretary Home, Raj Kumar Goyal, has been appointed as Chairman of the inquiry committee. Director General IMPA Bipul Pathak, Secretary GAD, Dr Piyush Singla, Secretary Law, Achal Sethi, and DG Codes, Shadi Lal Pandita, have been appointed as members.

IMPA was created by the then State Government as an autonomous Society for in-service training of recruits and incumbents of the Kashmir Administrative Service on the pattern of Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration in 1986. Recognizing the dire need for capacity building and skill enrichment among civil services, the then government planned to augment the manpower pool so as to create high quality managerial cadre for manning different echelons of the administration. The basic premise of establishing the Institute was to inculcate quality decision making competencies among different individuals and organizations in the government.

Until recently the appointment of the faculty members was the responsibility of an independent committee headed by the Chief Secretary. DG IMPA and two subject experts nominated by the Government would function as members. Of late, this job of selection of faculty members has been assigned to the Jammu and Kashmir Public Service Commission (PSC).

Another autonomous committee headed by DG IMPA was responsible for selection of the ministerial and class-IV staff.

Monday’s order of inquiry, however, came as a surprise to many at the IMPA as it focussed sharply on the irregularities allegedly made in the last 5 years, notwithstanding the fact that no faculty appointments had taken place in the last 9 years.

“The last faculty appointments took place in the year 2013 when one Associate Professor and 4 Assistant Professors were appointed directly. There were no substantive complaints of irregularity, favouritism or nepotism with regard to those appointments. There was just one complaint with regard to the eligibility of Dr Neena Bhalla as Associate Professor as some candidates pointed out that she had worked as Assistant Professor at a private college, rather than IMPA or a Government college. But no irregularity was established”, said a senior official.

However, in the year 2016, complaints were galore with regard to the selection and appointment of the non-gazetted and ministerial staff, including four stenographers, who were picked by a committee headed by the then DG IMPA, Dr Arun Kumar (IAS).

According to the complaints, those selected by the committee included a son-in-law of then Deputy Director IMPA (Jammu), a son of the then Hostel Warden (Jammu) besides a son of a Driver and a daughter of a clerk working at IMPA Jammu. The complaints alleged that the then DG IMPA had also selected and appointed the sons of his Driver and Personal Security Officer (PSO) in violation of rules.

Some of the failed candidates complained that Dr Reva Sharma, Associate Professor (Rural Development), who was associated with the selection process, had also got her own domestic help appointed against a class-IV vacancy. According to some other complaints, the then Deputy Director (Kashmir) had managed the appointment of one of his Baramulla neighbours against a vacancy at IMPA Jammu. The incumbent was subsequently transferred to IMPA Srinagar.

Knowledgeable sources revealed that in the wake of these complaints, both the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and Crime Branch (CB) of the UT Government launched two separate investigations but neither of them reported any irregularities. “After these two clean chits, what’s the fresh enquiry going to find in the IMPA appointments?” asked an insider.

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