J&K Bank is a public authority under the RTI Act
The State Information Commission (SIC) of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) has ruled that J&K Bank Limited is a Public Authority under Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information Act-2009, and is thereby answerable to the citizens under the RTI Act. The full Bench of SIC comprising of the Chief Information Commissioner G.R. Sufi and Information Commissioners Nazir Ahmad and Dr S.K. Sharma directed the Chairman of the J&K Bank to designate Public Information Officer(s), Assistant Public Information Officers and the First Appellate Authorities for the proper disposal of RTI applications. The order read “The Commission declares the J&K Bank (Ltd) to be a “Public Authority” as defined in Section 2 of the J&K RTI Act, 2009, fulfilling the conditions therein.” The creation of J&K Bank by the then Maharaja Hari Singh (sovereign ruler) was held to be a legislative Act, with the SIC holding that all executive, legislative and judicial powers were lying with him. The SIC also referred to the Article 157 of the State Constitution which gives protection to the orders, Acts and commands of Maharaja and terms the Registration of the Bank in 1956 as necessity.
The Commission observed that there has been substantial financial control of the State Government over the J&K Bank as the Government had 92% shares initially, which has been later on reduced to 53% not by de-investing or withdrawing or selling the shares. The State Government has the power and authority to appoint three Directors of J&K Bank Ltd. and the private Directors have no authority to expel these Government nominees. The SIC noted that only the Government companies are subjected to CAG’s audit control. The bench further noted that J&K Bank Ltd has always carried out guidance/ instructions and wishes of the Government whether it be overdrafts, subsidy schemes, appointment and removal of the Chairman at the wish and pleasure of the Government.