June 2018 News

Jammu And Kashmir Governor NN Vohra's Term Expires, But Centre Mum On Extension Or New Occupant Of Raj Bhawan

28 June 2018
Firstpost
Ishfaq Naseem

Srinagar: Uncertainty prevails over Governor NN Vohra's continuation in office as the Centre has not issued any communique to extend his tenure, which expires Thursday on 28 June. Vohra who assumed office in 2008 has received an extension in his tenure in 2013. The governor's deputy secretary, Hitesh Gupta, said that they have not received any communique from the Rashtrapati Bhawan to extend the services of Vohra. He said that he was continuing in the absence of an order from the central government. The constitutional position of the state was that the governor will hold office 'during the pleasure of the president'. Also as per the Jammu and Kashmir constitution, the governor shall hold office for a term of five years from the date 'on which he enters his office'. A former Kashmir interlocutor, on 28 June 2013, Vohra was sworn in for a fresh term at the oath ceremony which was held at Raj Bhawan. He was administered an oath by Justice MM Kumar, then chief justice of Jammu and Kashmir High Court. In the earlier communique issued by Rashtrapati Bhawan in 2013, it was noted, 'The President of India has been pleased to appoint Narinder Nath Vohra to be the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir for a fresh term on expiry of his present term.' In June 2008, Vohra had replaced Lt Gen (Retd) SK Sinha as governor of Jammu and Kashmir. His appointment was a break from the routine of appointing former intelligence or army officers as the governor of Jammu and Kashmir. Officials said that the Rashtrapati Bhawan may not have issued the communique as he may be replaced by an officer with 'army or police background'. 'The BJP government wants to directly rule the state until some clarity emerges about the government formation in the state and a governor with a military or police background could be tougher,' said a state government official. He, however, said that it was rare that the Raj Bhawan has not 'received any communique about the extension of governor's tenure'. The BJP national secretary Ram Madhav has been in Srinagar for the last two days and met many politicians including former social welfare minister and People's Conference leader, Sajjad Gani Lone, which has fueled speculations that the party was still making a bid for government formation in the state. While the split of the one-third of the MLAs of a party would incur disqualification, the two-third members of a party can merge with another party to stake a claim for government formation. Jammu and Kashmir law secretary Abdul Majeed said that it was the prerogative of the president to issue the communique to extend the tenure of the governor and the state government has nothing to do about it. As the Centre's interlocutor in Kashmir, Vohra had facilitated the talks between the separatists and Government of India. A retired Indian Administrative Service officer, Vohra served as home secretary as well on the key positions of secretary defence production and defence secretary between 1989 to 1993 as well as the principal secretary to former prime minister IK Gujral, between 1997-1998. Before his appointment as the Jammu and Kashmir governor, he was Government of India's special representative for carrying out dialogue in Jammu and Kashmir from 2003 to 2008. As chairman of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB), he has been monitoring the arrangements for the Amarnath Yatra which started from Jammu on Wednesday and will continue for a 60-day period. Secretary to the president, Sanjay Kothari, was not available for comments. Despite repeated attempts, Pawan Kumar Sain, deputy secretary, in Presidential Secretariat, didn't take the calls. The text messages on his number also went unanswered. A top official of the Ministry of Home Affairs who deals with the situation in Kashmir said that he was not aware of the extension to be granted to Vohra.

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