Putting PAO system on hold without cabinet approval illegal: Legal experts

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Srinagar, Mar 18: Days after the finance ministry under Altaf Bukhari put Public Pay and Accounts Office (PAO) on hold, the legal experts termed the move as illegal, saying that the Minister can’t take such step without the consent of cabinet.
Talking to a news agency, the Former advocate general of JK, Mohammad Ishaq Qadri said that the orders have been passed by the state assembly and the legislator can only pass it amendments and changes.”
He added that the only provision where the concerned minister would have revoked or uphold orders is that if there would have been any such clause mentioned in the policy but there is no such clause and thus its uphold is illegal.
Pay and Account Office (PAO) is actually an alternative (digital) medium to replace the old-flanged system of treasuries. During 2018-2019, state assembly session it was decided that two departments; R&B and PHE, Irrigation & Flood Control will move to PAO system by 15 February 2018.
PAO was a digital system that would credit the bill amount to bank account directly without anyone’s interference. The aim of PAO is controlling of bills to ensure that the expenditure incurred is within the sanctioned budget grant during the current financial year and under the particular head of accounts.
Officials of the Finance Department said J&K was the first state in India to implement the PAO system and had the approval of the legislature.
Zaffar Qureshi, a senior Advocate said that once the law is implemented by the legislator, the concerned minister has no power to revoke or uphold it.
“For any amendment, it has to go through the legislator,” He said.
Soon after Haseeb Drabu’s removal from the cabinet of ministers over his remarks on Kashmir that it is not a political issue, The government gave additional charge of the finance ministry to Altaf Bukhari and he ordered deferment of PAO system till March 31.
Soon after Altaf Bukhari put the Pay and Accounts Office (PAO) system on hold, National Conference Leader Omar Abdullah, raised a question on Micro-blogging site Twitter.
“@PMOIndia & FinMinIndia need to take a long, hard look at the reasons behind the sudden & arbitrary reversal of the PAO system that had been introduced in J&K.”
Reliable sources at People’s Democratic Party said that the Chief Minister has approved the on hold so there is nothing illegal in it. (KNS)