Three months after an alleged recruitment scam in Shivalik Pharmacy College in Nangal came to light, a probe ordered by Punjab Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu has failed to find any “serious irregularity prima-facie” in the hiring process. The minister, however, has cancelled 48 appointments of faculty members.
Addressing the media about the inquiry report by Chief Vigilance Officer, Local Bodies, Sudeep Manak, Sidhu said the probe was mandated to check if the question paper was leaked.
“But the inquiry found there were no serious irregularities in the recruitment process,” Sidhu revealed, adding the he was scrapping the recruitment “keeping in mind the public sentiment that about 90 per cent of selected candidates were from Ropar district. “Just to ensure transparency, the recruitment process is scrapped. It would be conducted afresh to give equal opportunity to all,” he said.
Sidhu had ordered the probe into the alleged scam after unsuccessful candidates had gathered in his office and asked him to get the recruitment process investigated. It had come to light that of the 2,000 applicants from across the state, who applied for 60 posts in various departments of the college, all 44 selected belonged to Nangal, a part of Anandpur Sahib, an Assembly segment represented by the Punjab Vidhan Sabha Speaker Rana Kanwar Pal Singh.
Replying to a question on how most of the staff selected after the process was from Anandpur Sahib, Manak, who was accompanying Sidhu to answer media queries, said it was not his mandate to check this fact. “We had received complaints that the paper was leaked. We checked that and we are certain the paper was not leaked.” he said.
He added, “The recruitment process was conducted by Guru Nanak Dev University. I have made a recommendation to the minister to issue an advisory to the GNDU for conducting such recruitment as it is the Local Bodies Department that is answerable and not the university.”
Defending Manak, Sidhu said, “We cannot question the university. After all, they are an institute.”
The list of selected candidates, which now stands cancelled, included college Principal D K Prasad’s daughter, an associate professor’s wife, two daughters of another faculty member, Nangal Congress Block president’s brother, two relatives of a Congress councillor, Speaker’s close aide’s daughter, former MC’s daughter-in-law, former Improvement Trust chairman’s daughter-in-law, another senior Congress leader’s daughter, a former Congress councillor’s son and daughter-in-law.
Only recently, Sidhu was under fire from his Cabinet colleagues for conducting a raid at Patiala Mayor Sanjeev Bittu’s house for overspending on his official residence. Several Cabinet ministers had objected to his action saying he should have spared his party colleague.