LEADER OF Opposition in Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Sukhpal Singh Khaira, has written to Chief Secretary, Karan Avtar Singh, raising objection over the selection of a Congress leader as a candidate for the post of Information Commissioner in the state.
Khaira has demanded that a meeting of a high-powered selection committee should be held before the names of the candidates are finalised. He has pointed out in his letter that Sanjiv Garg, the shortlisted candidate, is associated with the Congress and is only a law graduate. “There are other candidates who are more qualified than him who have been ignored. For example there is Ishwar Chandar Sharma, a retired IPS officer who holds MA degree in history, post graduate diploma in human resource management and has 26 years of experience in the IPS,” the letter says.
In another communication by the state government to the LoP, he has been informed that five names of candidates have been shortlisted for filling the two vacant posts of Information Commissioners. These include Air Marshal KS Gill (retd), a Patiala resident, Asit Jolly, a journalist based in Chandigarh, Charandev Singh Mann, a PCS officer posted in Mohali, Jatinderbir Singh, a retired IAS officer of the Assam-Meghalaya cadre, Khushwant Singh, who wrote a biography of Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh and Sanjiv Garg, a Patiala-based Congress leader.
As per the information given out by the state government, a total of 52 candidates had applied for the two posts. Among those who have been ignored are Ishwar Chandar Sharma, IPS (retd), Harbhupinder Singh Nanda, IAS (retd) and Major General Nawnit Kumar (retd) a decorated officer with 37 years of service in the Army.
The biodata of the candidates shortlisted for the posts reveal that Air Marshal Gill retired as Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Central Air Command in 2015 and is now settled in Patiala. Sanjeev Garg has given his educational qualifications as a law graduate with four years of experience as Vice Chairman of Punjab Agro Industries Corporation Ltd and has cited unspecified time as a social worker of various organisations such as Rotary Club Mid Town Patiala, Akhil Bharatiya Vaish Federation, Free Mason’s Lodge Patiala etc.
Asit Jolly works as a Deputy Editor in Chandigarh for a news magazine published from New Delhi and holds a PhD in Palaeontology and MSc Honours in geology. Khushwant Singh holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication and has cited more than 10 years of experience as an author and has written books like Maharaja in Denims, Turbaned Tornado, Sikhs Unlimited, Mending Souls and The People’s Maharaja. He has also been a consulting editor with a regional news channel and a columjist for national newspapers published from Chandigarh.
The LoP has also raised objection to the shortlisting of certain members of Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC). He has cited the example of Neelam Grewal stating that she is involved in a legal tussle with the management of Punjab Agriculture University (PAU) and has attacked a copy of the civil writ petition filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court with his letter.
Khaira has also pointed out that qualified candidates such as Harmohan Kaur Sandhu, who is the daughter of well-known Punjabi writer Gurnam Singh Tir and a literary personality in her own right with several publications to her credit, has been ignored. “A perusal of the proceedings of the meetings of the search committee shows that the committee has not adopted any special method while selecting the candidates and has shortlisted them through a pick and choose policy,” Khaira states in his letter. He also also said that the search committee should verify the antecedents of the candidates who have been shortlisted and should also find out if the experience cited by them holds true or not.