Srinagar: A major portion of the examination fees charged by Jammu and Kashmir Public Service Commission (PSC) from candidates is spent on refreshment of officials of the agency with an IAS cadre officer drawing Rs 1.45 lakh under this head during the last two years, a probe has found.    

The misuse of the funds came to light in an in-house probe conducted by PSC following objection by several members, who were in favour of reducing the fees charged from candidates instead of using it for refreshment of officials and other employees.

While the IAS officer drew Rs 1.45 lakh as refreshment charges for 23 months, even a Class IV (Safaikaramchari) benefited from the largess, ending up Rs 45,000 richer.

An officer of the rank of an Under Secretary drew Rs 1.20 lakh on this account during these 23 months.

According to the in-house probe, as many as 30 officers have drawn a total of Rs 22 lakh as refreshment charges from the funds raised from fees of the candidates.
   
The PSC charges Rs 500 per candidate per examination conducted by the commission for recruitment to the posts referred to it by the state Government.

The refreshment charges were drawn by the officials in violation of the norms prescribed by the Government by claiming to have worked overtime to complete urgent works.
 
The state government has put a ceiling of Rs 7,500 as refreshment or overtime charges per employee per year.

As per the data with the Finance Department, senior officers generally do not claim these charges as the amount is meagre compared to the handsome salaries drawn by them.

Official sources said the PSC officials had resorted to this practice by claiming that the commission is autonomous body and can decide on the usage of funds raised by them.
 
Several members of the commission have conveyed their objections to the Chairman of the PSC as well as the state government to put an end to the practice of using examination fees for refreshment.

"If there is so much of excess funds available with the PSC, it is better to reduce the fees charged from candidates. Most of them are unemployed and come from poor families," a
member of the commission said on the condition of anonymity.
 
The in-house probe has recommended a thorough probe into the matter by an independent government agency and refer the issue to the Finance Department of the state government for post-facto regularisation of expenditure already made.
 
It has also recommended an immediate stop on payment of any amount on account of honorarium, refreshment or overtime to employees from the fund raised from fees.

(Agencies)

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