M A I N   N E W S

‘Tainted’ officers get PCS posts
3 candidates had earlier paid lakhs
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 5
The tall claims of the Capt Amarinder Singh-led Congress government in Punjab of launching a crusade against corruption seem to have fallen flat with the nomination of certain “tainted” officers to the PCS (Executive) cadre. With the election code of conduct having already come into force, the government may find itself in a tight spot, now that it is pressing hard for issuing appointment letters to the selected candidates despite the “tainted” status and trials pending against certain selected candidates.

The nomination of such officials to the PCS (Executive) cadre has again put the role of the once-tainted Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) under the scanner even as the names of these “tainted” officials figure in the PCS (Executive) list announced on February 26.

While some officials now selected figured prominently in the earlier PPSC scam for having paid huge amounts for getting themselves or their kin selected in the PCS cadre, some others, now selected, had departmental actions pending against them, which, in certain cases, were filed just before the interview date was announced by the PPSC.

Documents available with The Tribune show that the government has nominated three candidates — Parshottam Singh Sodhi, Parwinder Pal Singh and Bhupinderjit Singh to the PCS (Executive) cadre this year, who were declared `tainted’ for allegedly paying lakhs for their selection for the same post during the chairmanship of ousted PPSC chairman Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu. Their names also figure in the statements of Randhir Singh Gill, main approver in the PPSC scam case, and they are facing trial under FIR number 24 of April 30, 2002, filed by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau in the PPSC scam. Parshottam Singh Sodhi’s name also figures in the supplementary challan filed by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau on September 19, 2002, in the “job-for-cash” scam.

On the basis of the statements of Randhir Singh Gill, the Punjab government had quashed the promotion and appointment of these officials earlier, but the same officials have been re-nominated to the PCS (Executive) cadre now. The Punjab and Haryana High Court also upheld their quashing in its order dated July 7, 2003. Significantly, PS Sodhi’s real sister and his real sister’s nephew were also later selected for the PCS (Executive) after allegedly making huge payments to Sidhu, which has also been recorded in one of the orders of the High Court.

Among some other selected officers are Inderjit Kaur Kang (sister-in-law of Congress MP from Jalandhar Balbir Singh), presently tehsildar Jalandhar 1. She has been earlier charge-sheeted under Rule 8 (major) of the Punjab Civil Service Rules. The chargesheet was, however, suddenly filed on 17.2. 2004, two days before the interview for the PCS (Executive) posts. Investigations show that the DC, Jalandhar, in his letter dated June 2, 2003, complained against her `wrongdoings’.

Similarly, evidence shows that selected candidate Ajay Sood, tehsildar, Ludhiana West, was charge-sheeted on November 12, 2001, under the Punjab Civil Service Rules 1970 Rule 8 (major punishment). These charges were later filed on January 8 this year. It’s learnt that vide his orders dated 30.10. 2001, the Financial Commissioner, Punjab, stopped six increments to Sohan Lal Bhumbak, also selected this year. He had been allegedly charged with tampering with records.

While there is a sense of insecurity among tehsildars who have been left out from the PCS cadre this year, the role of the PPSC has come under the scanner for adopting incoherent selection procedures in making the selections from the nominated PCS category. Though the PPSC earlier gave an advertisement in The Tribune on November 11, 2003, announcing that it would hold a general awareness test for selecting candidates to the PCS (Executive) through nominations, it suddenly cancelled the same through a notice on its website on January 29, 2004. It did not advertise the same in newspapers for every candidate to know of it.

Later, it announced the selections would be made through interviews, the dates of which were announced later only on websites. Many candidates are complaining that the interview intimation reached them very close to the interview schedule on February 19 and 20 this year. Finally, a short essay test was taken. Also the PPSC did not allegedly spell out the selection criteria and depended heavily on the ACRs of the candidates. While among those selected to the PCS cadre this year are many officers who have unclean records, they incidentally have outstanding ACRs even while there have been stringent departmental enquiries against them.

Another cause of doubt is the delay in announcement of results of the PCS (Executive) nominated category. Says a tehsildar who appeared for the interview this year, “The PPSC did away with transparency by cancelling general awareness test. Where results of candidates in direct category were declared on the day the interviews, our results were declared after about five days. We were 25 candidates. They were over 100. Why this delay?”


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