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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

After Early Times expose, CM’s Advisor can’t stay as MLA: Pirzada Mansoor

Speaker takes presentation of facts from MLA Mubarak Gul , ET scribe


JAMMU, Mar 2: On the second consecutive day today, opposition PDP’s MLA, Pirzada Mansoor Hussain, raked up the issue of the National Conference MLA Mubarak Gul’s indulgence into a work contract worth Rs 18 Lakh with Doordarshan and asserted that today’s issue of daily Early Times had made it clear that Mr Gul had misled the House with his statement on Monday. He demanded that Speaker should verify the facts and thereafter dismiss the NC Chief Whip and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s Advisor from membership of the Legislative Assembly.

In the beginning of the Zero Hour like yesterday, Pirzada Mansoor Hussain got up and displayed today’s issue of Early Times while making his point that Mr Mubarak Gul had misled the House with his suo moto statement on Monday. In his quick reaction to yesterday’s ET story from the newspaper’s Srinagar Bureau Chief, Ahmed Ali Fayyaz, Mr Gul had contested the fact of his involvement in seeking and taking the DD Kashir contract during his tenure as an elected MLA. In unambiguous terms, Mr Gul had offered to resign if it was proved that he made applied for empanelment as DD producer (contractor), submitted any project or received any allotment from DD while functioning as MLA or Chief Minister’s Advisor.

Mr Gul had further claimed that he had worked as DD’s private producer “three years back when there was Governor’s rule in the state”.

In a follow-up to the scoop in today’s issue of ET, Mr Ahmed Ali Fayyaz had mentioned in detail that Mr Mubarak Gul was an elected MLA in his 3rd term when DD Kashir had sought applications for the empanelment on 30-11-2007 as also when the NC leader submitted his application to DD in December 2007. He had further mentioned with documentary evidence, drawn from DD’s official website, that Mr Gul was serving his 4th term as MLA from Iddgah on the date of his personal presentation before DD’s Evaluation Committee at Directorate General (Mandi House) on 23-06-2009. Mr Fayyaz had further mentioned that Mr Gul was not only an elected MLA but also Chief Minister’s Advisor, holding the status of a Cabinet Minister in the state Government, when DD approved Mr Gul’s Kashmiri drama serial, titled ‘Azla Lone’ and the MLA (Producer) received DD’s letter of allotment at his Ministerial bungalow in Tulsi Bagh, Srinagar.

Quoting DD sources, but awaiting an official conformation, Mr Fayyaz had reported in the follow up that Mr Gul had reportedly signed an agreement of the work order at Directorate General of Doordarshan as recently as in January-February 2010. In a related story, Mr Fayyaz had unveiled another fact in the same process of commissioning that DD Kashir had allotted a separate project of Rs 24 Lakh (8 episodes of a Dogri drama serial at the rate of Rs 3.00 Lakh) to Mr Gul’s son, Younis Gul, in brazen violation of the guideline that bars DD from allotting programmes to more than one member in a family. Mr Younis Gul has been working as a corporator in Srinagar Municipal Corporation since February 2005.

Referring to the ET graphics, Mr Mansoor said that Mr Gul had misled the House with his statement yesterday. According to him, Mr Gul deserved dismissal of his membership from the House after ET’s documented proof of his having worked as a contractor of the Government while being an elected MLA.

With Chief Minister Omar Abdullah watching the proceedings without any reaction, Speaker, Mohammad Akbar Lone, received today’s copy of the newspaper and said that he would give his ruling on the issue after scrutinizing the facts. Yesterday, as well as today, Speaker made it clear that during his/her term as MLA, nobody was authorized by law to enter into a contract with the Government. He said that the MLA concerned had contested the charge yesterday but he would examine the whole issue in light of the fresh developments, including clippings of today’s reports in the newspaper.

After ending today’s proceedings in the House, Speaker called both, MLA Mr Gul as well as ET Bureau Chief Ahmed Ali Fayyaz to his chambers and collected presentation of facts from them.


Monday, March 1, 2010

Bade mian tau bade mian, chhote mian subhanallah!

DD has also allotted Rs 24 Lakh project to MLA Mubarak Gul’s corporator son

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

JAMMU, Mar 1: In brazen violation of its own guidelines for commissioning of programmes for the infamous ‘Kashir Channel’, Directorate General of Doordarshan has actually allotted projects worth Rs 42 Lakh to the National Conference MLA Mubarak Gul’s family. While as six episodes of the Kashmiri fiction ‘Azla Lone’ (Rs 18 Lakh) have been allotted directly in the name of MLA Mubarak Gul (Gulistan Productions), yet another project worth Rs 24 Lakh---eight episodes of the Dogri drama serial, titled ‘Allhar Golli Vir Sepoy’---has been allotted in the name of his son Younis Gul (Himalayan Communications). Mr Mubarak Gul is currently serving his fourth term as NC’s MLA from Iddgah while as his son, Younis Gul, is an elected councilor in Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) and has been representing Islamyarbal (Maharaj Gunj) ward since February, 2005.

DD sources revealed to early Times that the father as well as the son have accepted the allotment letters and signed the contracts for the two projects worth Rs 42 Lakh as late as in January-February 2010. However, nobody at Mandi House responded to phone calls for official confirmation. Both the letters of allotment came to the MLA’s previous official residence, Government Quarter No: J-14 Jawahar Nagar, and were later diverted to his lately allotted ministerial bungalow in Tulsi Bagh, in Srinagar. A law graduate, Mr Younis has also served as Chairman of SMC’s Public Health committee for two years.

Guideline GENERAL (N) v has been clearly violated by DD’s Evaluation Committee, headed by Deputy Director General incharge DD Kashir, Ananya Banerjee, in making the allotment of two programmes for the MLA and his son--- members of one family. It reads: ‘Normally more than one proposal from members of the same family, Production House/Producer will not be considered keeping in view principles of equity and natural justice’.

As clearly posted on DD’s official website Channel, Mr Younis name figures on serial number 122 of the list of allottee producers. While the MLA father made the personal presentation for his proposal file No: 1/67/36/09-KC before a committee of officials at Mandi House in New Delhi on 23-06-2009, the corporator son appeared before the same with his proposal file No: 1/191/444/09-KC on 29-06-2009. Both of their proposed projects were scandalously approved by DDG, Ms Ananya Banerjee, and Director General, Ms Aruna Sharma, in violation of the guidelines prescribed for the commissioning process.

MLA Gul has been regularly drawing his monthly salary and all other perks from Legislative Assembly. His son has been drawing honorarium of Rs 6,000 plus Rs 1,000 as telephone expenses every month from SMC. While all other guidelines have been brazenly violated by the DD authorities, this kind of largesse has been scandalously granted in favour of at least 15 families in J&K and 5 more outside. Those who have bagged the allotments, allegedly on payment of huge amounts of bribe, include a number of defeated candidates of 2008 Assembly elections, regular government officials and their proxy front producers and also two taxi drivers and cooks of some favoured producers. Only after DD was dragged to court by about 50 genuine producers who have been ignored, it was forced to post the list of allottee producers on its website, nearly four months after issuing the allotment letters in a controversial manner.

Who is lying Mr Gurezi: Early Times or Mubarak Gul?
CM’s Advisor offers to resign if proved guilty of seeking DD’s contract as MLA

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

JAMMU, Mar 1: Ruling National Conference’s fourth-time MLA from Iddgah, Chief Whip in Legislative Assembly, Chairman of a House Committee, member of several House Committees and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s Advisor, Mubarak Gul, who is holding the rank and status of a Cabinet Minister, today declared on the floor of the House that he would resign if it was proved that Doordarshan’s Rs 18 Lakh project had been allotted to him during his term as MLA. He claimed that it was a “three-year-old assignment” when he was neither CM’s Advisor nor MLA.

Mr Mubarak Gul’s statement came in reaction to some PDP MLAs’ demand that he should be dismissed as MLA for having contravened provisions of J&K Constitution and J&K Representation of Peoples Act by way of submitting his empanelment application and a programme proposal to Doordarshan and thereafter appearing in an interview as a private producer and getting Rs 18 Lakh project allotted in his own name. PDP’s MLA from Shangus, Pirzada Mansoor Hussain, and some other MLAs displayed copies of today’s Early Times during Zero Hour and complained to Speaker, Mohammad Akbar Lone, that the NC MLA had lowered the dignity of the House, misused his official position and status and entered into a business deal with a Government controlled organization.

While asserting that the MLA had forfeited his membership by entering into a business contract with the Government of India, PDP MLAs demanded that Mr Gul should be dismissed from membership of Assembly.

During a heated exchange with the Opposition, Mr Gul claimed that his presentation and subsequently the allotment of a Kashmiri drama serial was “three-year-old thing” when, according to him, he was neither an elected legislator nor CM's Advisor. Thereupon, another NC MLA, Mr Nazir Gurezi, suggested Mr Gul to move a motion of the breach of privilege against Early Times. Mr Mansoor presented a copy of the newspaper to Speaker and requested him to take cognizance and necessary action in the matter.

In the wake of Mr Gul’s statement on the floor of the House, Early Times once again checked the details and found that Mr Gul had been continuously working as an elected MLA from Iddgah since 1996 till date with the break of nearly six months when Assembly remained dissolved from July 2008 to December 2008. It was observed that no development had taken place during these six months with regard to Mr Gul’s efforts of getting a production project allotted in his name for his firm ‘Gulistan Productions’.

With full sense of responsibility and welcoming any motion of the breach of privilege, Early Times is yet again making it clear, on the basis of incontrovertible evidence (available on DD’s official website that DD’s notification seeking applications from private television producers was issued by Directorate General of Doordarshan on 30-11-2007, when Mr Gul was serving his third term as MLA from Iddgah. His 3rd term as MLA had started in October 2002 and ended with the dissolution of Assembly in July 2008. During the same period, Mr Gul submitted his application for empanelment as DD’s private producer in December 2007. Last date for submitting these applications was 27-12-2007. Thus, even three years before, Mr Gul was very much an MLA.

As crystal clear in ‘Final Result Recent DD Presentation (June 2 August 2009)’ on the website, Mr Gul has personally appeared before DD’s Evaluation Committee with presentation of his business project ‘Azla Lone’ (Destiny) on 23-06-2009 when he was serving his fourth term as MLA from Iddgah. His name is figuring on serial number 30 of the category ‘A’ producers in the list available on DD’s website.
This term, which is in progress for six years, had begun in December 2008. Allotment of the programme was issued, received and accepted by him in October 2009 when he was continuously existing as MLA and had also been appointed as CM's Advisor. Allottee producers have signed the agreements with Doordarshan in the months of January and February 2010. Thus it is clear that it is a matter of Mr Gul’s fourth and the current term as MLA, not a “three-year-old thing’.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

CM’s Advisor-Minister working as Govt’s contractor

Holding status of Cabinet Minister, NC’s four-time MLA Mubarak Gul gets Rs 18 Lakh project from DD Kashir

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Feb 28: Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s Advisor and the ruling National Conference’s four-time MLA and Chief Whip in J&K Legislative Assembly, Mubarak Gul, who is enjoying the protocol and status of a Cabinet Minister in Government of Jammu & Kashmir, has also turned out to be Government of India’s contractor as he has lately bagged a work order worth Rs 18 Lakh from Doordarshan. Even as Mr Gul believes that there was “nothing wrong” in his business with the Government, constitutional experts insist that any legislator indulging in such kind of a business with any state or Central government department is liable to disqualification from membership of the state legislature under different laws of the Constitution of Jammu & Kashmir.

According to the list of the freelance television producers, which has been posted on DD Kashir website after three months of resistance by Mandi House, those allotted commissioned programmes for the channel, in October-November 2009, include J&K Chief Minister’s Advisor, Mubarak Ahmed Gul. Presenting himself as a freelance television producer and proprietor of his firm “Gulistan Productions” before a committee of officials at Directorate General of Doordarshan in New Delhi on June 23rd, 2009, this senior National Conference (NC) leader and legislator from Iddgah constituency of Srinagar has been allotted production of six episodes of Kashmiri fiction, titled “Azla Lone” (Destiny), in his own name. His proposal file, bearing number 1/67/36/09-KC has been processed and scandalously approved by DD’s evaluation committee, comprising DD’s Deputy Director General (DDG) and head of DD Kashir, Ananya Banerjee, and representatives from the Union Ministry of Home and Union Ministry of Defence.

Even as DD’s committee was in full knowledge of Mr Gul’s being an elected legislator in J&K Assembly, it had no hesitation in making the allotment in October 2009 and informing the politician that his tender for the commissioned programme had been approved and the Government contract of Rs 18 Lakh sanctioned in his favour at the rate of Rs 3.00 Lakh per episode. “After presentation (on June 23, 2009), he has been appointed Advisor to CM (J&K)”, says the remarks column as if that was Mr Gul’s additional qualification as a “producer”.

As clearly mentioned on ‘Information’ (Kashir Channel) link of DD’s official website , the national broadcaster had sought applications from freelance television producers for empanelment as DD Kashir producers for 5 years on November 30, 2007. Last date for submitting the applications had been initially fixed as 17-12-2007 but later extended to 27-12-2007.

Records are clear that Mr Gul was serving his third term as MLA Iddgah during November-December 2007 when he submitted his application as a freelance television producer to seek the Government contract. He presented himself before the DD committee on November 23, 2009, when he was serving his 4th term as an elected MLA from Iddgah. With a brief pause from July 10, 2008 to December 28, 2008, Mr Gul has been continuously representing Iddgah segment in J&K Legislative Assembly since December 1996. His maiden term as MLA began in June 1983 and ended in 1986.

While admitting that he had applied for the empanelment, submitted his programme proposal and finally bagged the Government contract worth Rs 18 Lakh, Mubarak Gul said: “There’s nothing wrong in that. I was not an MLA at that time (December 2007 and June 2009). I am not barred from working as a producer. It’s not an office of profit. I don’t take any salary as Advisor to Chief Minister. Many MPs and MLAs have been doing their business. I am a senior producer. My programme has been approved and the contract allotted on merits”. He told Early Times that DD had not withdrawn the contact even after his becoming the CM’s Advisor. He has completed the formality of signing the agreement last month and is currently in the process of taking an advance payment from DD. He is also planning his shooting schedules.

Without insisting to know the identity of the MLA involved, former Chief Justice of J&K High Court, Bashir Ahmed Khan, and former judge of J&K High Court, Bashir Ahmed Kirmani, invariably opined that all public servants and public men (MLAs, MLCs, MPs) were barred by law from entering into any business contract with the Government and Government controlled establishments. “Disqualification at the time of filing nomination is essentially applicable to entire term of a legislator”, Justice (retired) Bashir Ahmed Khan said. “Legislators’ business with government tentamounts to disqualification as a member. But, I’ll check further and let you know”, Justice (retired) Bashir Ahmed Kirmani said.

Leading advocate in J&K High Court, Sheikh Shakil, who has the largest number of transparency PILs in the state to his credit, says: “This is a matter of brazen impropriety on the part of an elected legislator. His further elevation to the rank of CM’s Advisor and Cabinet Minister is rather immaterial but it makes the impropriety all the more serious. By way of applying for the empanelment, appearing in the presentation before Government officials, accepting the contract and signing an agreement with a Government department for his purely commercial business, honourable MLA has contravened not only the basic spirit of the Constitution and lawmaking but also violated provisions of J&K Constitution and J&K Peoples Representation Act. I believe he is liable to disqualification as a member of the House. He should resign and seek a fresh mandate before Speaker is approached by someone for his disqualification as MLA”.

Advocate Shakil said that Speaker was bound to entertain and forward such a representation to High Court and its decision, with regard to the member’s disqualification, would be final under Section 24 [c] of J&K Representation of Peoples Act, 1957.

Sheikh Shakil made it clear that it was not a question of an MLA running an office of profit. “Basic question is whether or not an elected legislator or someone who files his nomination papers for such a position is free to enter into incumberance or contract with a Government department. Had it been so, all MLAs, MLCs and MPs would have been openly operating as Government contractors and suppliers”, he said. He asserted that there was much more involved in it than simply the moral and ethical obligations of an elected legislator. He referred to interpretation of “disqualified” as given in Section 25 of J&K Representation of Peoples Act and argued that it was holding good for both---a contesting candidate as well as an elected MLA. It reads: “In this part ‘disqualified’ means disqualified from being chosen as, and for being a Member of Legislative Assembly or Legislative Council of the State”. It is mandatory by law for all contesting candidates, MLAs and MLCs to be absolutely free of all such incumbrances and contracts at the time of filing nomination papers and for entire term in case of the elected and nominated legislators.

“His predecessors would have perhaps ignored it with a smile. But Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has shown a no-nonsense belief in ethics and morality from day one. It took him not a second to resign when his moral standing came in question from the Opposition last year. How can he condone his own Advisor’s breach of law?” Shakil asked.

Interestingly and ironically, MLA Mubarak Gul had himself voted in favour an amendment moved by then Minister of Law, late P L Handoo, when members of Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council were declared as “public men”, brought under the purview of anti-corruption laws and barred from entering into commercial activity with any Government or Government controlled establishment.