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Thursday, October 28, 2021

‘Nepotism’ in Punjab govt’s literary awards: Govt asks for ‘more than one month time’ to file reply, court extends stay on conferring awards

The Punjabi language department of the government had announced winners for pending six years — 2015 to 2020 — in 18 different categories of literature and art in December 2020.

Written by Divya Goyal | Ludhiana |
September 24, 2021 12:57:30 am
punjab newsThe interim order granting a stay on conferring awards by the government will continue till the next date of hearing, November 11, the court said.

A local court of Ludhiana has further stayed till November the conferring of Punjab government’s literary and art awards for the years 2015 to 2020, after the state government pleaded in the court that they need ‘at least more than a month’ to prepare their reply in the case related to alleged ‘nepotism and favouritism’ in the selection of winners.

The court of civil judge, Hasandeep Singh Bajwa, while extending the stay granted on July 19, further till November 11, in its order dated September 21, has said that the government counsel, Kulwinder Singh, has asked for ‘more than a month’ to file a reply in the case, which was being granted ‘in the interest of justice’.

The interim order granting a stay on conferring awards by the government will continue till the next date of hearing, November 11, the court said.

“Kulwinder Singh, Ld. GP, has appeared on behalf of defendants. He requested that more time may be granted to him for filing a written statement. The counsel for the plaintiff has not opposed the request. In the interest of justice, the request of Kulwinder Singh is considered and allowed. The case is now adjourned to November 11 for filing of a written statement. The interim order dated July 19 to continue till the next date of hearing,” the order said.

Eminent Punjabi writer and winner of the 2008 National Sahitya Akademi award in Punjab, Mitter Sain Goyal alias Mitter Sain Meet (68), had filed a civil suit in a local court of Ludhiana on July 14, alleging that winners of literary and art awards — that are given by the languages department of Punjab government — were being selected on basis of ‘nepotism, favoritism and without following any policy or criteria to judge the writings. Mitter Meet, in his plea, challenged the selection procedure for Punjabi Sahitya Rattan award and Shiromani awards, which are given by the Punjab government each year. The court, in response to the plea, had put a stay on conferring of the above-mentioned awards by the government on July 19.

The Punjabi language department of the government had announced winners for pending six years — 2015 to 2020 — in 18 different categories of literature and art in December 2020.

Mitter Sain Meet along with two others — Harbaksh Singh Grewal (70), and Rajinder Pal Singh (68) — who run an organisation called ‘Punjabi Bhasha Parsar Bhaichara’ — had also submitted an additional application in the court demanding a stay on conferring the awards and cash prizes to the winners till their side was heard.

Contacted, Meet on Thursday said, “The government lawyer was not prepared and they sought more than a month’s time to prepare reply during the hearing on September 21. The court has given them time and also extended stay on conferring of awards.”

The cash prize for six years collectively cost Rs 6 crore to the state exchequer. A total of 18 awards – Punjabi Sahit Rattan Award worth Rs 10 lakh and 17 Shiromani Awards (worth Rs 5 lakh each) – are given each year by the government.

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