HARYANA LOKAYUKTA’S decision to dismiss a complaint seeking probe into allegations of “undue favour” shown by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar in agreement with Chief Secretary DS Dhesi while recommending names of his Principal Secretary Rajesh Khullar’s wife and minister Ram Bilas Sharma’s daughter for nomination to IAS out of the state cadre officers has been challenged in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
The petition, filed by Panchkula resident Ravinder Kumar, came up for hearing in the court headed by Justice RS Malik on Tuesday, but the court adjourned the case to December 20 to submit legible copies of annexures with the petition.
Kumar has sought quashing of the Lokayukta’s order dated August 23 and directions to the Lokayukta to adjudicate on his complaint dated July 26 on merit by passing a detailed order. “Top public functionaries have indulged in fraud in connivance with each other to extend undue favour to some identified candidates and especially to Dr Sonia Trikha Khullar, who is wife of RK Khullar, IAS, Principal Secretary of Chief Minister Haryana, and Dr Asha Sharma, daughter of Ram Bilas Sharma, Cabinet Minister,” he alleged.
Kumar has also submitted that the Lokayukta is bound to conduct a preliminary inquiry into allegations to arrive at an unbiased conclusion as to whether there is reasonable ground to conduct a probe under Haryana Lokayukta Act, 2002 whereas this procedure was not followed in his complaint, alleged the petitioner.
It has been alleged that the CM himself ordered to fill up only one vacancy of the IAS without prior consultation with the Centre as is required under Regulation 3 of IAS (Appointment by Selection) Regulations, 1997. There are allegations that Khullar, “who is himself dealing with the health department, directly or indirectly influenced the screening committee to ensure the selection of his wife for the lone vacancy occurred between 01.01.2015 and 31.12.2015 to alter the date of recommendation to the candidates”.
It is also alleged the five names were finalised by ignoring candidates of outstanding merit. Other names sent to the UPSC include Dr Rakesh Talwar, SMO at Haryana Raj Bhawan, senior town planner Gurmeet Kaur and Parmeshwar Mehra, an Excise and Taxation Department official. However, UPSC returned the list to the state government in July, raising objections on candidates’ incomplete ACR records and other lapses.
The UPSC again returned the list in August for forwarding five names without revealing that there was stay on finalising the process by the Chandigarh bench of the CAT.