Srinagar: Close on the heels of its action against employees “involved in activities prejudicial to security of the state”, the Jammu and Kashmir administration plans to choke allotment of contracts and supply orders to individuals/firms with “links to anti-national elements” and “dubious antecedents”.
The move seems to be part of the series of “tough” administrative measures initiated by the union territory (UT) administration post August 5, 2019, when the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Union government read down key provisions of Article 370 and converted the erstwhile state into two UTs.
Documents accessed by The Wire show that the UT administration has asked top bureaucrats to devise mechanisms to ensure that individuals and firms with dubious antecedents and direct and indirect links with anti-national elements won’t get any government contracts. “Taking serious note of the issue of some individuals and firms with dubious antecedents and direct and indirect links with anti-national elements getting government contracts, all administrative secretaries were advised to devise appropriate mechanisms to ensure that no such individual or firm gets any contract/ supply order from the government,” read minutes of a meeting held at the Civil Secretariat, Srinagar on May 31.
The high-profile meeting was chaired by J&K’s Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha and attended by top bureaucrats including chief secretary Arun Kumar Mehta, outgoing chief secretary B.V.R. Subrahmanyam and all administrative secretaries.
Later, on June 10, the General Administration Department of the J&K government circulated minutes of the meeting among officers for necessary action.
“The undersigned is directed to request all administrative secretaries to take note of the aforesaid decisions and submit action taken report(s) in respect of each decision(s) to General Administration Department,” reads a communique from Rohit Sharma, additional secretary (GAD), to all departments.
While the government claims that contractors with dubious credentials and links with anti-national elements are getting contracts, no such case has come into the public domain in recent years.
When contacted, principal secretary, roads and buildings department, Shaliendra Kumar said they are looking into what kind of mechanism can be devised.
Character certificate from police
Under the existing mechanism, an individual has to submit a character certificate issued by the police along with other documents for registration as a contractor in J&K. According to a notification issued by the J&K administration during President’s Rule in 1992, the documents required for registration as a contractor include a character certificate to be issued by an officer not below the rank of superintendent of police of the district concerned after verification from the Criminal Investigation Department.
The registration of contractors in J&K is governed by a law enacted by its legislature in 1956. The law is silent on whether those indulging in anti-government or anti-national activities are disqualified from participating in bidding for contracts but it empowers the administration to formulate rules to prescribe conditions and qualifications for registration as a contractor.
It also empowers it to prescribe conditions for de-registration as a contractor.
Similar administrative measures
The government has also come up with similar administrative measures in the past two years. It has sacked six employees, without holding any inquiry, for their alleged involvement in anti-national activities. No specific reasons were given for the termination of these employees which includes three teachers, an assistant professor, a police officer and a revenue official.
In April, the J&K government formed a Special Task Force (STF) to initiate action against government employees involved in ‘anti-national activities’. The STF has been empowered to identify and scrutinise cases of employees and refer them to the committee constituted on July 30, 2020.
The committee headed by the chief secretary recommends cases for termination of employees to the LG, who is empowered to sack employees without holding inquiries under Article 311(2) (C) of the Constitution of India.
The verification process for government job selectees has also been made complex. In March this year, the government ordered that selectees will need to disclose their personal details as well as social media accounts – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram.
The selectees are also required to disclose whether any family member or close relative is associated with any political party or organisation or any prohibited/banned organisation such as the Jamaat-e-Islami. They also have to submit details of mobile numbers used during the past five years.