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RTI activist's protracted battle with J&K Bank likely to bear fruit

IANS  |  Srinagar 

Raja Muzaffar Bhat, of and Kashmir movement has fought a protracted battle with the management of the and Kashmir seeking transparency and accountability in working and by this premier financial institution of the state.

Speaking exclusively to IANS, Bhat recalled his over the Bank's proclaimed exclusion from the Act.

"In 2009 the J&K Act came into force. Soon after an was constituted. I approached the regarding the legality of the and Kashmir remaining outside the purview of the Act.

"The then delivered a detailed judgment declaring as a public authority thereby making it obligatory that information sought under the RTI Act must be furnished by the Bank.

"In 2010 the Bank got the RTI Commission's judgment stayed by the The stay order had still not been vacated.

"On November 22, 2018 the (SAC) headed by decided to bring the Bank under the RTI Act after declaring it as a public authority. owns 59 per cent shares of this bank.

"I wrote an article in a saying that after the SAC decision the has no valid legal reason for not furnishing information about its NPAs, huge loans to business houses, management of other assets etc.

"Instead of furnishing the required information, the Bank filed a defamation suit of Rs 50 crore against me in a local court in February this year."

"In my defence I told the court that I had not named any person or any business house that had been benefited by the Bank's management," he said.

Bhat said despite facing defamation filed against him by the Bank, he relentlessly continued his pursuit to throw light on the grey areas in the Bank's functioning.

"For example, I asked the Bank that it has shown a net profit of Rs 465 crore for the fiscal ending March 31, 2019. I raised a simple question, the Bank has sold its 2.40 per cent stake in amounting to Rs 185 crore. I sought explanation as to how the sale proceeds from selling of its stake in could become a part of the Bank's net profit," the RTI activist said.

He has raised many other questions through his RTI applications which have been brushed aside by the Bank's management.

"I raised a query as to what prompted the Bank to sell 1,800 crore of its bad debt portfolio to assets reconstruction companies (ARCs) at a discount of over 40 per cent while the same borrowers reflected as bad debts by owed money to other banks where they were making repayments without any distress sale of such debts by those banks," Bhat said alleging that there is a strong reason to believe that a huge deal of over Rs 200 crore was made by selling these debts at over 40 per cent discount to ARCs.

The RTI activist said he is satisfied with the steps being taken to bring transparency and accountability in the Jammu and Kashmir Bank, but wanted the probe into mismanagement extended beyond the tenure of the sacked

(Sheikh can be contacted at sheikhqayoom@gmail.com)

--IANS

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(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, June 12 2019. 11:44 IST
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