Nearly three months after the Supreme Court set aside appointment of 1,983 PTIs (physical training instructors) in Haryana, the State Vigilance Bureau (SVB) has lodged an FIR against the then chairman of Haryana Staff Selection Commission, its members and officers. The selections were made during Congress government of CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda after initiating the process for the same in 2006.
The FIR has been lodged after Advocate General Baldev Raj Mahajan recommended a thorough probe into the matter keeping in view the observations of the apex court regarding the selections. The Vigilance Bureau FIR, which was lodged on Tuesday, claims that the then chairman, members and officer misused their position to benefit ineligible candidates.
The FIR reads: “…under some pressure, the then chairman changed the criteria of the selection thrice to benefit their favourite candidates. Except the chairman, there was no signature of other members (on papers for change in the criteria). During the selection process, the chairman (in conspiracy) with the members awarded maximum numbers to their favourite candidates in the range of 20 to 27 out of total 30 marks.”
Initially, the total marks of the interview were fixed 25 before changing the criteria. In this case, the selection process was initiated in December 2006. The initial written test that was held on January 21, 2007, was cancelled and a new date was notified; but just a month before the scheduled date, the examination was cancelled for administrative reasons. A decision was then taken on July 11, 2008 to shortlist the candidates on the basis of the minimum academic qualifications without going in for the written examination and all eligible candidates were called for an interview.
In September 2012, a single bench of Punjab and Haryana High Court had quashed the appointments. Then Justice Augustine George Masih had ruled, “There is no semblance of a collective responsibility or decision making process. The very concept and spirit of the Commission stands butchered and banished due to there being no consultation, association and participation by any of the (Commission) members in the present selection process for filling up the posts of PTIs.”
Masih had also come down heavily on the then HSSC chairman, holding that the Commission was nothing but one man show in the selection process.
Later, a division bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court had also upheld the decision. A division bench comprising Justices Surya Kant and Surinder Gupta had berated the Haryana government and Haryana Staff Selection Commission (HSSC) for conducting a fraudulent selection. “Here is a case where alterations have been designed with the sole object of downgrading and not upgrading the standards of selection to public employment,” the order had mentioned while coming down heavily on the then chairman of HSSC, Brigadier (retd) Nand Lal Poonia. In April this year, the apex court too ordered to set aside the selections. Following the court orders, the PTIs were retrenched.
However, senior Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala had recently urged the Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar to reinstate the retrenched 1,983 PTI teachers of government schools by issuing an ordinance and ratifying it through a Bill passed by Haryana Vidhan Sabha. In a letter addressed to the Chief Minister, Surjewala had even sent a “draft Bill” for ‘providing security of service to PTIs in the interest of justice and equity’.
Surjewala had claimed the PTI teachers were innocent and the court has not held them guilty for any corruption. “The Supreme Court’s decision found neither corruption in the PTI selection process nor any malicious act was found to be done by any of the selected PTI teachers. So, PTIs should not get unjustly penalised for an irregularity on the part of the recruiting authority. The removal of 1,983 PTI teachers’ from government jobs following the Supreme Court’s April 8, 2020 decision is an insensitive hit at the bread and butter of their families,” Surjewala had stated.
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