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Punjab, Haryana have been withdrawing posts from the commissions’ ambit at regular intervals
Bid to strip service commissions of powers
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 11
It’s an intended erosion of the system and the state governments seem to be practising such acts with impunity. The governments of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh have been “systematically withdrawing powers” from their public service commissions over the past few years, hence grabbing every possible opportunity to take out posts to undertake recruitment on their own.

Information gathered under the Right to Information Act (RTI) by HC Arora, an advocate in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, has revealed that despite protests by these public service commissions against “usurping” of their powers by the respective governments, political interference has sealed their fate.

Last year, the Punjab health department sought the consent of the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) to withdraw 147 posts of medical officers from the purview of the commission.

When the commission protested against the proposal, the department informed it that the Chief Minister had already given his nod for withdrawing these posts from the commission. Objecting to the withdrawal of its powers, the commission wrote to the health department describing the government action as “high handed and arbitrary”.

Last August, Punjab excise department also wrote to the commission that the Chief Minister had approved recruitment of excise and taxation officers (ETOs) and that the recruitment would be got done by the department through Panjab University, instead of the commission.

Expressing its “helplessness” in the matter, the commission, in its reply to the department, stated that the state government had not bothered to give any reasons why the recruitment of ETOs was being taken out of its ambit. The commission also pointed out that these posts were part of the PCS (executive branch) and allied services, which were to be filled through a combined examination.

Similarly in November 2007, the defence services welfare department (Punjab) withdrew 15 posts of sainik welfare officers from the PPSC and after filling up these posts through the departmental recruitment committee sought post-facto approval from the commission. The PPSC did lodge a protest against the exclusion of these posts, but to no avail.

The situation seems to be no different in neighbouring Haryana where in 2005 the health department requested the Haryana Public Service Commission (HPSC) to give its assent to withdraw the post of Director, PGIMS, Rohtak, from its domain on the pretext that “the process of filling up the post through HPSC will take a considerable time”. The government also proposed to withdraw the posts of Class-I and Class-II employees of the PGIMS from HPSC.

The HPSC lodged a protest against the move pointing out that “the government had not sent any requisition for recruitment and was presuming suo moto that the commission would take considerable time for the process of recruitment”.

Notably, the government proposed to take the post of Director, PGIMS, Rohtak out of the purview of HPSC a few days ago on the same pretext, thereby indicating that it was not the time period that mattered to the government but behind the move lay hidden the intention for taking the posts out of the purview of the commission without any justification.

To be continued

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