Appointment of Punjab minister’s son quashed
Chandigarh, January 6
Holding that the appointment of the minister’s son in the category of terrorist-affected families under a policy of the government that had already been superseded by a fresh policy only showed the flexibility of the Punjab Government in bending its instructions to confer benefits on a ward of a Cabinet minister, a Division Bench headed by the Chief Justice, Mr Justice D.K. Jain, allowed the PIL filed by a Patiala resident challenging the appointment.
On December 13, the Bench had reserved its verdict on the PIL filed by Mr Surjit Singh, who had alleged that the appointment was a clear-cut case of nepotism. He had stated that invoking the provisions of the 1996 policy relating to relief and assistance for terrorism-affected families was illegal.
The minister’s son was appointed direct as inspector on January 22, 2003, on the ground that the family had suffered during terrorism. The minister claimed to have been injured in 1992, when a grenade was hurled at the then Member of Parliament, Mr Surinder Singh Kairon, in Amritsar.
However, during the hearing, counsel for the petitioner told the Bench that while the minister’s son had been appointed Inspector in the Punjab Police, nothing had been done for the family of the gunman of Mr Kairon who was killed in the incident. He also stated that the minister’s injury was not due to any attack on him by terrorists. He was merely present at a place where terrorists had lobbed a grenade.
During the hearing, petitioner’s counsel M.P. Goswami had said that highly influential persons like the minister used their influence to get benefits for their own wards. He had alleged that due to such acts, genuine sufferers of terrorist activities, who had lost their breadwinners, were deprived of the concessions provided by the government.
He had also pointed out that though the minister’s son had been appointed in accordance with the policy dated February 5, 1996, which dealt with terrorist-affected persons, the policy had already been replaced by a fresh one dated November 21, 2002. The new policy did not provide for such appointments.
However, the minister’s son had rebutted the petitioner’s stand and had also questioned his bonafides in filing the PIL. But, in its 18-page order, the Bench said that without going into the issue of maintainability of the writ, it felt that the validity and legality of the appointment required to be examined in the light of the fact that a ward of a minister had been appointed on compassionate grounds.
“The question whether lawmakers can be permitted to flout the instructions framed by the government and judgements of the courts on the matter is the pertinent question which arises in the present writ,” the Bench noted.
The Bench also took a serious view of the fact that the appointment was made after lifting a ban imposed on compassionate appointments. The ban, which came into effect on August 5, 2002, was lifted within a month on September 5, 2002. “It appears the ban was withdrawn so as to provide employment to the respondent in the back door,” the Bench noted.
The stand of the minister’s son that his request for appointment had been made before the new policy came into force also did not find favour with the court.
“Merely on the basis of making an application, no right accrues to the applicant to seek appointment under an old policy,” the court held.
It, therefore, allowed the petition and quashed the appointment.