JK Bank autonomy: Satya Pal miles away from role back

Kashmir Magazine

The assurance from the top constitutional authority like Governor of a state in India does not come through a simple press release and that too when comes to the autonomy of a key economic institution like Jammu and Kashmir Bank but the incumbent Jammu and Kashmir Governor has been too clever to convince the All J&K Bank Officers Federation of India with a verbal assurance and a simple press release. Half hearted assurances may be satisfying the political ego of the Governor Satya Pal Malik but it won’t satisfy the concerns of the people of Jammu and Kashmir on Jammu and Kashmir Bank. So by all standards of understandabilities we can say that Governor Satya Pal Malik is still miles away from the complete roll back of the State Administrative Council (SAC) decision that was taken to change Jammu and Kashmir Bank into a Public Sector Bank.

If any single sentence is worth debating it is the one in the seven point press release of the Governor Satya Pal Malik in which he says “no changes are being made here or contemplated,” but the fact remains that many changes ordered by the Governor already are at the centre of controversy revolving around the working of Jammu and Kashmir Bank. Assurance that Governor would re-examine the accountability of Jammu and Kashmir Bank to state legislature means that a decision which had to be taken by the state assembly, the highest law making body of the state, has been taken by the Governor in absence of a popular government.

Though Tasaduq Madni, the president of All India J&K Bank officers Federation says that, “PSU order stands withdrawn” but no such words are mentioned in the press release issues by the government after Governor’s meeting with a delegation of the All India Jammu and Kashmir Bank Officers Federation. The Governor’s press release has been issued days after mainstream politicians, separatist leaders, trading bodies and as well as the employees of J&K Bank hit streets against the State Administrative Council (SAC) decision taken to change Jammu and Kashmir Bank into a Public Sector Bank.

Even naves in Kashmir know that Jammu and Kashmir Bank founded in 1938 is an old private sector Bank under the banking regulation act of 1949 and Governor Satya Pal Malik in his press release has just mentioned these irrefutable words to change the public perception about the SAC decision on J&K Bank.

Normally a decision to change the nomenclature of the Jammu and Kashmir Bank should not have been taken in isolation by the government but on consultation with other stakeholders. Agreed that Jammu and Kashmir government owns 59 percent of the shares in the bank but when it comes to the decision on changing the nomenclature of the bank, the people owning 41 percent of the shares have to be also taken on board.

Unfortunately the Governor has taken harsh decisions without the consultation of other share holders of Jammu and Kashmir Bank and above all the major policy decisions like changing Jammu and Kashmir Bank into a Public Sector Bank are only taken by popular governments which have the power and authority to bring in a new legislation or amend the old legislations.

Ironically the first nail in the coffin was put by erstwhile Omar Abdullah led National Conference-Congress coalition government when the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) was given the mandate to carry out general banking business and with this J&K Bank became the agent of Reserve Bank of India in the state.

In fact the Jammu and Kashmir Bank prior to then Omar Abdullah governments decision was extending overdrafts to the government but it got diluted after Omar Abdullah government virtually made Jammu and Kashmir Bank an agent of RBI in the state. Though jurists believe that bringing J&K Bank within the ambit of RTI act is a welcome step but with the application of RTI rules to the bank, the decisions of the bank are subject to judicial review which means that any decision taken by the bank can be revoked by the courts in the state.