An appointment of a cousin of Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti in Khadi Village and Industries Board (KVIB) has become a source of controversy in the state, leading to allegations of nepotism.
The appointment of 37-year-old Syed Aroot Madni, son of Mufti’s maternal uncle Sartaj Madni, as an executive officer in the autonomous KVIB has prompted dropped candidates to file an RTI seeking their marks in the written test and interview.
One candidate had even written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of his interview expressing fears of nepotism and malpractice.
Aroot, whose father is vice-president of the Peoples Democratic Party, refused to comment when contacted.
Peer Mansoor, vice chairman, KVIB – a close aide of CM Mufti and senior PDP functionary – says, proper recruitment norms were followed in the selection.
“This is the fairest selection in the history of KVIB. We are nowhere in the picture. We outsourced the conduct of exams to a private reputed agency and they handed over the final list,” he said.
Aroot’s selection, however, is being questioned by candidates who have alleged rules were flouted to accommodate him.
The candidates alleged that the selection of candidates for various posts was handed over to a private recruitment agency instead of the Jammu and Kashmir Services Selection and Recruitment Board – JKSSRB – which conducts all such exams for non-gazetted posts as per norms.
They also said 15 to 18 candidates were shortlisted for interview to fill in a single post, which is against set norm of 3:1 or 5:1. Candidates alleged calling so many candidates for interview was done to “manipulate selection”.
The JKSSRB and Jammu and Kashmir Public Services Commission (JKPSC) are the two premier recruiting agencies of the state generally shortlist three or five for interviews to fill in a post.
Further, they alleged, 30 marks were kept for the interview and only 60 for the written test. The remaining 10 marks were for work experience. The JKSSRB and JKPSC generally keeps 80 and 20 marks for written and interviews for filling up government vacancies.
Farooq Peer, former JKSSRB boss, wrote on Facebook that it would have been proper had the KVIB referred the vacancies to JKPSC or JKSSRB since they are credible bodies for recruitments.
“Since jobs are scarce and a large number of aspirants had applied for KVIB, the JKPSC or JKSSRB would have handled the process in a transparent manner,” he said.
The KVIB had advertised various posts, including that of executive officer, on October 8, 2016.
The shortlisted candidates appeared in the written test in August, 2017, and the interviews were held in the last week of January.
Rashid Qadri, secretary, KVIB, told that his department had no role in the selection.
“The industries minister who is also chairman of KVIB had appointed the law secretary as the Controller Examination. He later outsourced the conduct of examination to a private recruiting agency,” he said.
He said the law secretary Abdul Majid Bhat handed over the list to them and we announced them the same day.
Bhat did not comment.
Asked why score of written test and interview were not published, Qadri said he will write to Bhat to make publish the merit list on the website.
Mansoor said relatives of several sitting ministers and politicians had applied for various posts in the KVIB but they were not selected. “My own nephew has failed to make it. He is in the wait list,” he added.
The KVIB had placed an advertisement for 101 posts including six for executive officer in 2016. Approximately 60000 applications were entertained for the candidates to write the exams.
For the interviews, the government had appointed an interview board which was headed by Special Secretary, Law, Anshul Sethi, Qadri and Director, Industries, Jammu and Srinagar, respectively.
One of the interviewers told that he recalled the topmost candidate in the interview was given 27 out of 30.
“I can now tell you that the person who are enquiring about (Aroot) was one among a few toppers who got good marks. He was not the number one but his interview went well,” he said.