After three ministers in the Badal government had to resign within six months of its second consecutive term,now Education Minister Sikandar Singh Maluka is under a cloud over the appointment of his daughter-in-law Parampal Kaur in his own department as the additional state project director of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA).
Kaur has been taken on deputation from the rural development and panchayats department,where she was working as the district development and panchayat officer. She was appointed on the new post in a rather hush-hush manner in July. The issue has come to the fore now with the discovery that no terms and conditions were framed while appointing her.
It has been revealed that the appointment was made on a simple application from the candidate,which was followed by only a one-line order from the minister to the education secretary. In what smacks of nepotism and favouritism,rules were evidently bent and the formal procedure was not followed. Consequently,no terms and conditions were set for the appointment before she joined the post. Now,the SSA has sent her file to the education department for finalising her terms and conditions.
Under the rules,the SSA should have convened a meeting of its executive committee,which is headed by the chief secretary and also taken a policy decision to fill the post. Subsequently,the department should have written to all other departments that it wants to take on deputation officers for the post of additional state project director in SSA. The committee should have also framed the guidelines and terms and conditions for appointment to this post,experience,qualification,pay,deputation allowance and other details,for circulation to various departments. The selection should have followed after receipt of applications. In this case,applications were not invited.
When contacted,Maluka admitted that his daughter-in-law was appointed in the department but said: It is for the department to see what are the rules and regulations and whether a field officer can be taken on deputation directly or not.
Asked whether it was a case of nepotism,the minister shot back: What is wrong in it? You should check her record as BDPO and DDPO in the rural development and panchayats department. It is excellent and we need such officers in our department. She is not directly working under me but is assisting the SSA director general. He added that in case he was holding the rural development and panchayat department,she would have been working under him in her original department.
Secretary (Education) Husan Lal too justified the appointment by saying,We needed somebody with a few years experience for the job and she had it.
The distribution of all grants received from the Centre under its relevant schemes takes place through the Directorate of SSA.
During the Assembly elections in January,Kaur was Mansa BDPO but was shifted by the Punjab chief electoral officer. Her entry into Rampura Phul constituency was also banned because her father-in-law was contesting from the constituency.