The government circumvented,and even acted against its own rules,to appoint Rakesh Sharma on the post of Director,Ayurveda,that had been lying vacant for the last 25 years.
Documents in possession of Newsline,reveal that the state government appointed Sharma after relaxing two of the five compulsory conditions laid in the Punjab Ayurvedic department (Class I and II) Service Rules,1963,under which the appointment was made.
Ayurvedic doctors in Punjab have also challenged his appointment in the court. Besides relaxing the condition of 10 years’ compulsory experience,which Sharma did not fulfill,the condition of the candidate having conducted original research in ayurvedic therapy was also relaxed,without the issuance of any notification. As per the 1963 rules,it is also mandatory for a candidate to have a post-graduate degree in ayurveda,a condition Sharma does not fulfill.
The documents revealed that though the Punjab Health department had drafted new service rules in 2001 and got them approved as Punjab Ayurvedic (Group A) Service Rules in 2008 from the Chief Minister,it did not notify the replacement of the old rules of 1963 till Sharma was appointed.
Sharma was appointed on March 24,2008,as per the 1963 rules,which stood annulled in view of the new rules already approved by the Chief Minister on December 8,2007.
As per the new rules,the candidate for director must be appointed from among the ayurvedic doctors’ cadre in the state and should possess at least two years’ experience as Joint Director of Ayurveda.
Notings on the official file for the appointment of the director reveal that the officials of the Punjab Health department deliberately kept the notification of the new rules pending till the appointment of director was made as per the old rules.
The officials had first allowed the new director to join and immediately after that,the then Principal Secretary,Health and Family Welfare,Vijay Kain,in his notings on the file on March 24,ordered that “the new service rules be sent for notification”. Thus,the new rules were notified by the government a day after Rakesh Sharma joined the post.
The government had enforced new rules in 2001 (when only the draft had been prepared),while appointing ayurvedic medical officers in the state.
The post was filled through the Punjab Public Service Commission,which had earlier rejected all the 54 candidates,till the government relaxed the conditions.
Rakesh Sharma,however,said,”I was appointed by the PPSC and there is nothing wrong in my appointment. My appointment was done as per old rules of the department of 1963 and I was the most qualified candidate for the post. I no not wish to say anything more. You ask the government.”
Health Minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla said,”No wrong has been committed in the selection process. It has been done through the Public Service Commission. The decision regarding relaxation of certain conditions was done by the Punjab Cabinet. As regards the case in the High Court,any decision taken will be implemented by us.”
When asked about the change of rules and keeping the Cabinet in the dark over the new rules,she said she was not aware of any such thing.