Former Haryana Women’s Commission chairperson Kamlesh Panchal talks to Khushboo Sandhu on her unceremonious removal.
What do you have to say about your removal?
I was appointed following proper procedures. There was no party baazi involved as is being alleged now. I am suitably qualified for the post. I have, however, now been removed unceremoniously. There was no notice given to me before removing me from the post. At least a month’s notice is given everywhere. No chance of a hearing was given to me. Even terrorists are given a hearing before being punished. What have we done?
Kavita Jain (Haryana minister for women and child development) says that there was no notification for your appointment.
I have a copy of the notification. All due procedures were followed. Despite being a minister, she is levelling false allegations. It does not suit her office. She is making statements without investigation.
How did the problems with the new government start?
The problems started soon after the BJP government took over. I had completed around three months of my tenure by October 26, last year by then. The ruling government had been pressuring me to quit. One day, the Officer on Special Duty (OSD) to the chief minister Bhupeshwar Dayal told me, “Sarkar ke haath lambe hote hain. Aap isteefa de dijiye.” (The hands of the government are long. You should resign). He did not threaten me, but politely made it clear that I should resign on my own or else the government will remove me. This is what they eventually did. The government now says that there were complaints against us. There was no dispute between the Vice Chairperson Suman Dahiya and me. Dahiya wrote to the CM about legalising prostitution. I opposed her statement and also wrote to the chief minister on the issue. This was no dispute. Even if there was one, we should have been given a hearing at least.
Were adequate facilities available for functioning of the Commission?
The Commission was mitti ka aayog. The government did not let us work. I was not even given an official car. I used my own car whenever I had to visit a place. With a monthly honorarium of Rs 50,000 I was expected to do all this. Despite this I kept at my job as I wanted to do something for the society. The budget of the commission was Rs 5 lakh a month. Salaries of the staff, rent of the building, electricity bills were to be paid out of this. The Commission functioned with great difficulty. The present government had been disrespecting the chairperson of the women’s commission. Ideally when there are functions pertaining to women, I should have been invited. However, this was not followed. I was never invited anywhere by the present government.
What work have you undertaken in your tenure?
I practised as a lawyer for the last 22 years. I was a member of the Juvenile Justice Board before I was appointed the chairperson of the women’s commission. During my tenure, I travelled to various districts and helped women in need.
Did you try approaching the chief minister after you were removed?
I tried meeting the chief minister but was not given an appointment. I tried talking to the CM over the phone, but again the OSD said, “Why do you want to disturb the CM for small things?” I met Kavita Jain, but she told me that I will be removed. Eventually, the government did what it was intending to do and removed me. I have now moved the Court. I have full faith in the judiciary.