Chandigarh, April 20
The failure of Punjab Chief Secretary to submit his report in the matter apparently prompted him to file the petition. “The silence and delay raise a question mark over the will and intention of the state government to probe the matter, truly and effectively, and take the same to its logical conclusion, regardless of the persons or personalities involved,” Gill asserted.
This is the first time Gill has filed a petition in public interest here. He was present before Chief Justice Mukul Mudgal and Justice Jasbir Singh, when the petition came up for hearing.
Acting on the petition, the Bench issued notice of motion to the state of Punjab and other respondents. The Bench also asked the state to specify the status of the Chief Secretary’s report.
Gill quoted The Tribune reports to say: The expose of corruption and favouritism in the selection revives the worst memories of the notoriety earned by the commission during the infamous tenure of Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu, its Chairman, from September 9, 1996, to September 8, 2002.
“Such was the impact of the revelations made that, taking immediate cognisance thereof, the Chief Minister, Punjab, ordered an inquiry by the Chief Secretary to Government, Punjab, into the selection.
“The Chief Secretary was asked to submit his report within a month. Despite the lapse of more than a month, no report has yet been submitted by the Chief Secretary, Punjab. At least, no such report has been brought to light in the public domain, despite the manifest public interest involved.”
Gill added: Nor has the progress of the inquiry being conducted by the Chief Secretary under the orders of the Chief Minister been put in the public domain. It appears that, after the initial impact and sensitivity, the normal processes of government have taken over….
“The gravity of the revelations published by The Tribune, especially when seen against the backdrop of the scandalously corrupt selections made by the PPSC during the tenure of Ravi Sidhu, an experience too proximate to be forgotten, cries for immediate and visible corrective action if public confidence in the public services is to be restored.
Not all journalism, including investigative journalism, impels the same degree of confidence or credibility. But it would be an abdication of responsibility on the part of all concerned, or all those who ought to be concerned, if immediate and visible corrective action is not taken upon the revelations made in the news reports, which are not reports of the normal or ordinary kind”.
Gill concluded by asking the high court to direct the state government to place before it the inquiry report; and also to constitute a special investigation team of “officers of unquestionable integrity and competence to conduct a thorough and time-bound investigation”.
Directions have also been sought “to take the result of such investigation to its logical conclusion, including punitive action against those found responsible, regardless of the persons or personalities involved and without any compromise with the truth or the imperatives of justice”.