Punjab government is examining the issue of re-recruitment of six PCS (Executive) officers dismissed in 2002 during the previous tenure of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh when a recruitment scam had come to light. The six were among 28 selected in 1999 during the tenure of controversial Punjab Public Service Commission chairman Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu. They were on probation in 2002 when they were dismissed from service when the alleged cash-for-job scam came to light.
However, 22 were appointed back 2014 as PCS officers following a court order. The remaining six, who continued to face cases, were acquitted by a Patiala court in February 2017 after the key witnesses turned hostile. Now, the government is considering their reappointment. Three of the sacked officers are at present in other government jobs. Jeewan KumarGarg, is a Tehsildar, Capt Sukhwinder Brar is in the Regional Transport Authority, and Randeep Singh is posted as Excise and Taxation officer. The three obtained these jobs as they were not barred from reappearing in a subsequent PPSC examinations despite the case against them.
The three others are Kuljit Kaur, Bharat Bhushan and Deepak Gakhar. The six wrote to the government four months ago seeking re-appointment as they had been acquitted by the court. The 28 officers were booked by Punjab Vigilance Bureau in 2002. They were charged with paying bribes ranging from Rs 12 lakh to Rs 70 lakh to Sidhu during 1998 and 1999 to get selected. Sidhu was convicted for seven years in 2015, and is serving his sentence.
Sources in government told The Indian Express that the issue of the re-appointment of the six was discussed at a meeting of Chief Minister with the Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh and Advocate General Atul Nanda where the AG vociferously opposed the appointment of all except Randeep Singh, who was acquitted by the Supreme Court. Also, it was flagged at the meeting that Amarinder had himself signed their dismissal orders and that it would look improper for a government headed by him to recruit them back.
Sources said the file was with the Chief Secretary who was yet to put it up to the Chief Minister with his recommendation. Nanda, when contacted, said he did not want to say anything on the issue except that he was asked by the CM to give a legal opinion.
“I have done that. What decision is taken on the issue is up to the government,” said Nanda.
Nanda in his report is learnt to have quoted a four-year-old ruling of High Court stating that the “candidates against whom FIRs had been registered in the job-for-cash scandal definitely carry a trace, stain or blemish that they were tainted.”
The high court had termed the selection process as “vitiated” and that the selected candidates were a part of this exercise. Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh did not respond to phone calls or text messages seeking his comments.