Questioning the Cabinet clearance to appointment of two persons – a mountaineer and a former Army officer – as Deputy Superintendents of Police (DSP), the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Monday accused the Capt Amarinder Singh government of taking “illegal” and “arbitrary decisions” and making appointments through back door.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Leader of Opposition, Harpal Singh Cheema, said that the appointment of Mount Everest summiteer Fateh Singh Brar and former Army officer, Major Sumeer Singh, was opaque. “Who decided that only these two persons were eligible to be appointed as DSPs? When was an advertisement issued to invite applications? Were any applications invited at all? How did the Cabinet get these two names only for appointment? These are the questions, which need to be answered,” said Cheema.
Major Sumeer Singh has been given relaxation in height to be inducted into Punjab Police as there had been objections earlier over him not meeting the requirement.
The LoP also said that there were countless sportspersons across the state who have excelled in international events and they deserved to be appointed in government at various posts. “What is the criteria for choosing one person who has scaled Mount Everest? Is there a policy, which exists regarding this like there is in Haryana? There must be many who have scaled Mount Everest. Why have they been ignored,” he asked.
Cheema said that he had written a letter to the CM asking for the relative of a pilot, who had died in the North-East in a crash in the late eighties and was a bachelor, to be given a government job but this was denied. “I was told that the nephew of the pilot was not a direct heir. And here we have the cabinet clearing not one but two names in the least transparent manner. There are many former Army officers who are quite capable to serve in Punjab Police. There should be some criteria by way of which they should be appointed. “ he said.
The LoP said that Amarinder Singh had made similar arbitrary appointments during his previous tenure as CM too. “Appointment of several persons including the son of his then media advisor, Bharat Inder Singh Chahal, had been set aside by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 2004. It seems the Congress government has not learnt any lessons,” Cheema said.
In 2004, the high court had set aside selection of seven persons as DSPs by the Punjab government under the sportspersons category. They included Bikram Inderjit Singh Chahal, son of Bharat Inder Singh Chahal and Gulzar Singh, son of Harinder Singh Chahal, the then SP of Ferozepur. Others whose selection has been set aside were Vimmy Singh, Gagan Inder Singh, Major RS Ahluwalia, Manavjit Singh Sandhu and Palwinder Singh Cheema.
It had been alleged at the time that the selection criteria had been fixed to favour a few persons who were related to some well connected persons.
In the present instance, the Cabinet has cleared the two names as “special cases”. A government statement said that Brar was one of the youngest mountaineers in the country and had scaled Everest at the age of 16 years nine months on May 21, 2013. He was a student of the Lawrence School, Sanawar, at the time.
The government has also justified the selection of Major Sumeer Singh on the grounds that he was instrumental in eliminating terrorists in cross-border surgical operations conducted by the 9 PARA (Special Forces) and that his appointment helps in utilising his services amid efforts by terrorists to revive militancy in the state. It was stated that the Punjab Police felt the need to recruit persons who possess in-depth knowledge and experience of combating terrorism, intelligence gathering, building intervention and hostage rescue operations etc.