Senior IAS officer and former Punjab Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh’s appointment as chairperson of the Punjab Water Regulation and Development Authority came under challenge before the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Wednesday on grounds of alleged favoritism and nepotism.
A single bench of the HC on Wednesday adjourned the hearing of the case to August 13 while asking the petitioner to file an additional affidavit to showcase that Singh is not competent to hold the post. The appointment has been challenged by a Mohali-based lawyer Inderjit Kaushal.
“I have to furnish the information that he is not competent and it is then for the court to decide,” Kaushal, who is petitioner-in-person in the case, told The Indian Express.
Singh, who is set to retire from the government service in August, was divested of the post of Chief Secretary last month and made Special Chief Secretary, Governance Reforms and Public Reforms. On June 30, he was appointed as chief of the water body. He can join the post only after retirement or prior to that after resignation from the IAS.
Kaushal in his petition said Singh is neither eligible nor suitable for the post of the chairman as he “does not” fulfill the required criteria. “It is to the best of the knowledge of the petitioner that no committee has been constituted by the state government for the selection of Karan Avtar Singh to the post of chairman/chairperson and is appointed on recommendation of respondent no. 3 (Captain Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister,” the petition alleges, adding the appointment is a post-retirement “reward” for the “faithful services” rendered towards the CM.
Submitting that he considers himself as eligible for the post as he meets the criteria for it, Kaushal said he had also applied for the post in April. Claiming Singh is the usurper of the post, the petition seeks issuance of a writ of ‘quo warranto’.
“It is pertinent to mention that the respondent (Singh) has proceeded on leave for two months after allegedly misbehaving with (a) Cabinet Minister in the month of May, 2020 over the issue of Excise Policy for liquor for the year 2020-2021,” reads the petition.
Kushal has alleged that the appointment is a “clear act of favouritism” by Captain Amarinder as Singh, who was close to him on all occasions. “For taking decisions at the behest of respondent no. 3 (Captain Amarinder), Singh has managed the appointment as the chairman of the Punjab Water Regulation and Development Authority by bypassing all channels,” his petition reads.
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