When GAD attempted to engage retired official as ‘parallel Advocate General’
Law Minister Bukhari snubbed GAD: ‘State can run without Tota Kaul’
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz_______
JAMMU, Jan 30: Functioning directly under Chief Secretary’s administrative control and regulating various administrative services, General Administration Department (GAD) has an inherent tendency to interfere with the working of any department, including the State government’s corporations, boards and autonomous organisations. However, its efforts to install a retired official as ‘parallel Advocate General’ fell flat when the former Law Minister Basharat Bukhari put his put down and turned down the proposal with contempt.
Feroz Ahmad Sheikh, who retired in 2013 as Additional Secretary (Law) after serving GAD for a long period, had been re-engaged as ‘Standing Counsel’ by Omar Abdullah’s government for two years. Even after the change of regime, followed by appointment of the new Advocate General (AG) and a team of the government advocates, GAD in December 2015 moved a proposal of granting yet another extension of two years to Mr Sheikh.
Terms and conditions of his engagement with the nomenclature of ‘Standing Counsel’ were drafted in a way that Mr Sheikh would function like an AG for the GAD independent of the Law Department. This notwithstanding the fact that the Law Department had placed two of its young Law Officers, Assistant Legal Remembrancer Sajad-un-Nabi and Suhail Muzaffar, exclusively at GAD’s disposal. On the AG’s panel, Deputy AG Ehtisham Hussain Bhat also looked after the GAD matters. Monthly salary of around Rs 1.50 lakh was also fixed for Mr Sheikh.
Days before Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed fell ill in Srinagar and subsequently died at a hospital in New Delhi on January 7th, GAD submitted the proposal of Mr Sheikh’s second engagement to Law Department. Even as some GAD officials played up in the corridors of power that Law Minister Bukhari and the AG, Jehangir Iqbal Ganai, had appointed a number of their friends and relatives as Government Advocates and Standing Counsels, Mr Bukhari turned down the proposal with a warning that GAD should no more overstep Law Department’s jurisdiction, particularly so in the extension and re-engagement of the retiring or retired officials.
“It is said that, in the Maharaja’s rule, a file recommending extension in the services of a retiring officer of Finance department, namely (Mr) Tota Kaul, was submitted to (late) Maharaja Hari Singh. The Maharaja returned the file with the following observation: ‘State can run without Tota Kaul”, Bukhari recorded on the file accessed by STATE TIMES. He added in his hand-written note: “…we must allow young officers to grow and prove themselves by taking the mantle of running the affairs of administration”.
Shooting down the GAD proposal, Bukhari added: “And also this proposal from GAD to engage Mr Feroz negates and disapproves the immense talent, acumen and ability of the serving officers / officials and hence creates doubts about their competence. Moreover the terms of engagement (vis-à-vis Mr Feroz) mentioned in note para 257 of this file suggest/ indicate as if we have to engage another Advocate General. While as GAD’s interests taken care of/ looked after by learned Advocate General, besides two young law officers stand already posted with GAD. So need not to engage Mr Feroz as standing counsel after his retirement as the said officer (retiree) was already engaged for two years after his superannuation”.
Scolding Mr Sheikh’s promoters further, Bukhari wrote: “So let GAD move ahead without retired officers/ officials as someday everyone is to retire. Moreover GAD must restrain from overstepping Law department’s jurisdiction and even bypassing it in future”.