SRINAGAR In a surprise development, the State Government on Saturday unceremoniously removed the high-profile Chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir Bank, Parvez Ahmad, and appointed RK Chibber in his place. Minutes after the removal of Parvez Ahmed, the state vigilance organisation sleuths raided the corporate headquarters of the bank in Srinagar.
For the J&K Bank it was an eventful day on Saturday as the Governor Satya Pal Malik led administration cracked the whip by ordering removal of Ahmed and appointing a non-Kashmiri face as the head of Jammu and Kashmirs premier financial institution.
Parvez Ahmed, Chairman-cum Managing Director, shall cease to be Director on the Board of Directors of the bank and consequently be no longer the Chairman cum Managing Director of the Board,” an order issued by Additional Secretary, Finance, Vishal Sharma said here, announcing the appointment of Executive President R K Chibber, as the Interim Chairman cum Managing Director of the bank. This is perhaps for the first time that the Chairman of J&K Bank has been appointed from the Jammu region.
The order triggered a storm in the headquarters as it came as a big surprise for all the staff members of the bank headquarters at Dalgate area of Srinagar who were on holiday as it was second Saturday of the week.
In another surprising development, minutes after the removal of Parvez Ahmed as Chairman of the Bank, state vigilance organisation sleuths raided the financial institutions corporate headquarters.
Anti Corruption Bureau issued a statement later stating: A case under Prevention of Corruption Act was registered on the outcome of a written complaint received in Anti Corruption Bureau, Hqrs. J&K, to look into the allegations related illegal/fraudulent appointments made in JK Bank.
Since the allegations reflected in the complaint disclose commission of criminal misconduct by Officers/officials of J&K Bank which constitute offence under section 5(1)(d) of Prevention of Corruption Act Samvat-2006 and punishable under section 5(2) of the Act, Case FIR No. 10/2019 was registered in P/S Anti Corruption Bureau Central Kashmir Srinagar and investigation of the case was taken up. Immediately after registration of FIR searches of premises of Corporate Office J&K Bank headquarters and during search operations documents/discriminatory material pertaining to the appointments were seized. Further investigation is going on, the statement added.
Well placed official sources told Kashmir Observer that immediate trigger for todays development was the growing resentment in Jammu over recent recruitment process of the bank in which candidates belonging to Kashmir were allegedly given preference against those of Jammu.
The ongoing process of recruitment of probationary officers of the bank came under criticism in Jammu as the cut-off marks percentage for the candidates of Jammu was fixed very high while that of Kashmir was comparatively low. The Governor intervened and the cut off was brought at par for all three regions, Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.
The vigilance organisation during raids today was looking for records of nearly 1,200 appointments allegedly made at the behest of politicians belonging to the previous PDP-BJP government in the state and during Ahmad’s tenure.
Parvez Ahmed was appointed as J&K Bank Chairman in 2016.
Sources revealed that the Vigilance sleuths have seized some documents from the bank chairmans secretariat and also from the Human Resource section to corroborate the evidence about the alleged backdoor appointments made during the PDP-BJP tenure. Governor was kept in loop while conducting the raid on the J&K Bank Corporate headquarters, they said.
This is for the first time that the Vigilance conducted the raid on the States prestigious financial institution triggering a wave of speculations as to whether the Governor wants to take the reins of the all the premier institutions.
It bears mention that the State Administrative Council (SAC) headed by Governor in November last year had approved a proposal to treat the J&K Bank as a public sector undertaking (PSU). The SAC had also approved the proposal that the Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information Act, 2009 be applicable to the Bank, just like other banks under PSU.
Before that, Malik had dropped a bombshell by claiming that 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.
The governor said that a group of 40 candidates met him and told him that they had been dropped from the selection list despite qualifying the exams as well as interview for the recruitment in Jammu and Kashmir Bank.
The bank, listed on the NSE and BSE, was incorporated in 1938 and the state government owns 59 per cent shares of J&K Bank.
This is the only private sector bank designated as the Reserve Bank of India’s agent for banking business and carries out the banking business of the Central government besides collecting central taxes for CBDT in the state.
Government Spokesman Speaks
Keeping in view the concerns expressed in various quarters regarding the governance and functioning of the Jammu and Kashmir Bank, the Government has decided to take long term measures to improve the functioning of the Bank, so that it becomes a shining example of a well managed Government owned bank.
As a first step, the Government has decided to change its nominee Director on the Board of JK Bank, Mr. Parvez Ahmed, who is also the Chairman and Managing Director. Consequent to his replacement as a government appointed Director, the Board has taken on record cessation of Directorship of Parvez Ahmed as Chairman and Managing Director.
The Government has appointed Mr. R.K.Chibber, Executive President of JK Bank as the government nominee on the Board. The Board subsequently approved his appointment as an Interim Chairman and MD of the Bank. The Government has also decided to constitute a Search Committee to identify a suitable panel of names for being appointed to the Board of Directors of JK Bank and subsequently for consideration as Managing Director of the Bank.
The JK Bank has also been directed repeatedly by the Reserve Bank of India to separate the positions of Chairman and Managing Director for better governance. The Government will be taking steps through the Board of the Bank for making necessary changes in its Article of Association/Bye-laws with regard to posting of a separate Chairman and a Managing Director with adequate safeguards in the functioning of the Board to ensure high levels of financial probity, financial control, better risk management and oversight. The Board of Directors in its meeting today has made necessary recommendation in this regard.
The Government is committed to take necessary steps for making the Jammu and Kashmir Bank as one of the best performing bank in the country and accelerate economic growth in state of Jammu and Kashmir.