Srinagar, Dec 30: The government has set the ball rolling for appointment of ombdusman for probing charges of corruption and maladministration in Panchayat Raj institutions in Jammu and Kashmir.
The process for appointment of ombdusman for Panchayats was initiated last month by the administration with appointment of a four-member committee mandated under “The J&K Ombdusman for Panchayats Act, 2014”.
As per news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), the panel headed by Rajiv Rai Bhatnagar (advisor to Lieutenant Governor) and comprising Farooq Khan (advisor to LG), Baseer Ahmad Khan (advisor to LG) and Chief Secretary will submit its recommendation for the appointment to the LG.
In March 2019, the government appointed KB Aggarwal as first ombdusman of Panchayats in J&K. But his tenure was cut short by reorganization of erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir as he was deemed to have held the office till only October 31, 2019.
Subsequently, the Centre made amendments in “The J&K Ombdusman for Panchayats Act” in view of the change in legal and constitutional position of Jammu & Kashmir.
In 2014 Omar Abdullah-led government enacted the law for ensuring complete transparency in the functioning of the democratic institutions in rural areas of the State.
The ombdusman is empowered to enquire into any complaint in which corruption or maladministration of a public servant or Panchayat is alleged.
The ombdusman shall, for the purpose of any investigation or enquiry under this Act, have the same powers as are vested in civil court while trying a suit under the Code of Civil Procedure in respect of the summoning and enforcing the attendance of any witness or examining him; requiring the discovery and production of any document; receiving evidence on affidavits; requisitioning any public records, or copy thereof, from any court or office etc. (KNO)