Wednesday, May 1, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Governor seeks PPSC chief’s sack
Sends sealed letter to President Narayanan
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 30
The Punjab Governor, Lt-Gen. J F R Jacob (Retd.), today sent a formal communication to the President of India on the “misbehaviour’’ of Mr Ravi Sidhu as Chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission and has sought his “removal’’ under Article 317 of the Constitution of India.

The sealed letter was dispatched through a special messenger to Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi.

As per the prescribed Constitutional procedure, the President makes a reference to the Supreme Court, which, in return, takes further action. But once the reference is made, the Governor can place the Chairman under “suspension’’ and appoint an Acting Chairman.

Meanwhile, informed sources have told TNS that the government was deliberating on the reconstitution of the Commission. Since the procedure for removal of the members is the same, as in respect of the Chairman, the government is likely to exert ‘’moral pressure’’ on the present members to quit, thus, paving the way to reframe the Commission. The question is, will the present incumbents oblige?

The government, at the highest level, is also minutely examining the Punjab and Haryana High Court orders on the future of all those appointments that have been made through the Commission during the tenure of Mr Sidhu, against whom criminal cases have been registered. The investigations have revealed malpractices and corruption that dominated the recommendations and selections to various higher service cadre of the state. The exposure has “diminished’’ the Constitutional dignity of the Commission. The faith of the common man in the very functioning of the Commission has also been “eroded’’.

The entire issue of 3,446-odd recruitments has been discussed with the Chief Minister, Capt. Amarinder Singh. The broad view that has emerged, taking into account various aspects, is that all appointments should be “swept aside’’ because investigation by the Vigilance Bureau has clearly indicated that 99 per cent recruitment was “tainted’’ and the remaining 1 per cent was “influenced’’ by several extraneous factors. Therefore, all 3,446 selections should be scrapped.

One school of thought in the top echelons of the administration is why should the government and the people be saddled with such “tainted’’ persons, who had adopted unfair practices and foul measures to get appointment, while, candidates of higher merit may have been ignored. Since the principle of fair play did not permit such a situation, it would be in the interest of the state to show the door to all such appointees.

Another school of thought, sources said, was that all cases should also be referred to the Income Tax Department to investigate the source of huge money that selected candidates paid to get entry into the higher cadre service posts.

The information revealed by the “touts’’ of Mr Ravi Sidhu has shaken the very system. The Vigilance Bureau is now being flooded with complaints and so is the Chief Minister with more and more demands for vigilance probes. As such there is a move to urgently assess the present strength and means of the Vigilance Bureau and provide it with the necessary manpower and assistance at the requisite levels to enable it to cope with the volume of work it is handling, said sources.

It is also reliably learnt that in several departments, boards and corporations cases of embezzlement, fraudulent means and pleasure foreign jaunts by ministers and bureaucrats during the regime of the previous government are also under the scan. There are several cases ready for reference to the present ministers concerned with the remarks that the same be entrusted to the Vigilance.

For instance, besides the enquiry into the graft irregularities in the Punjab School Education Board that has been entrusted to the Vigilance, it is likely to get yet another case pertaining to the state education department involving financial irregularities in the purchase of laboratory glassware and chemicals worth several crores for schools in the last week of March, 2002.

As more scandals and scams surface, this has flustered the politicians and bureaucrats, who are scurrying for cover. The case in point is the anticipatory bail that has been sought by the former Akali Ministers, Mr Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, Mr Nirmal Singh Kahlon and Mr Sucha Singh Langah. The court today issued notice of motion to the government in the case of Mr Brahmpura for May 6, Mr Langah for May 13 and for hearing the case of Mr Kahlon, May 3.

The Vigilance has also registered a case against an IAS officer, Mr R. Venkatratnam. This has ruffled many bureaucratic feathers. The new, stringent procedures laid down in respect of IAS and other bureaucrats before the Vigilance Bureau can proceed against such officers are now being flaunted before the Vigilance that has been asked to ‘’lay off’’ in respect of Mr Venkatratnam. This case has also been brought to the notice of the Chief Minister.

In view of the sizzling situation, Capt. Amarinder Singh has called a Press conference at Punjab Bhavan here tomorrow afternoon.Back

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