EDITORIAL

Expedite J&K Bank probe

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That the State government has finally initiated some corrective action against the J&K Bank by sacking its chief is a welcome development. And so is that the bank has been brought within the ambit of Right to Information Act, which means that it will no longer be like the one operating in Cayman Islands, which is what it used to be until now – refusing to be accountable to the people. However, it is also a sad reality that following government’s action, which of course has been appreciated by the general public, the J&K’s Bank’s public image has taken a beating, and this of course cannot remain without impacting investors’ trust in it. So the best thing that the government could and should do to re-establish investors’ trust is to expedite its investigations into all the wrong-doings which were cited as a reason for administrative action in the first place.

For instance, as was suggested by the state itself, some 1200 illegal appointments have been affected in the J&K Bank during past few years of PDP-BJP government. And if the reports are believed, some political leaders made a real fortune out of such appointments – minting as much as Rs 15-20 lakhs per job. So for any serious probe, it should not be difficult to establish who got appointed when and how, and whether the person landed a job in a legal way or was a backdoor entry in lieu of money paid to political bosses or bank officials, or on the basis of some political clout alone. And this part of the investigation is something that should ideally be completed within a week or two and such illegal appointees should be shown door. This will not only help regain public trust but would also accord lot of sanctity and seriousness to the government’s action against the bank.

Similarly, if there has been exchange of money in transfers and postings, as has also been alleged, it should also not take long to establish reality of this charge. So the guilty must not only be punished, but publicly named and blamed as well so as to make them into an example. Same holds true for all other unscrupulous practices that the bank has been involved in – whether it is according contracts for doing interiors of various business premises or risking the bank’s money in sanctioning loans to the prospective and “almost-certain” defaulters or confusing and masking needless and extravagant expenditures in the robes of Corporate Social Responsibility -- all these things can be established within no time if there is will to do so.

The Governor’s administration must catalyse its probe into the J&K Bank and make its findings public by fixing responsibility on those who have brought both disrepute and losses to this financial institution. This will not only invest its actions with credibility in public eyes, but also help restore people’s trust in the official action which otherwise has always been in great dearth here.

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