The wife of a senior Haryana bureaucrat and the daughter of a state Cabinet minister figure in a list of five names forwarded by the state government to the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) on Monday for selection to the IAS.
The list was approved by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar. The UPSC has the final say on who will be picked for the post.
According to a senior officer, there are three ways through which an IAS officer is selected: direct recruitment conducted by the UPSC, elevation from the state civil services and, occasionally, from other state government services, on the recommendation of the state government.
On the Haryana government list is Dr Sonia Trikha, director of the State Institute of Health and Family Welfare in Panchkula. Trikha is married to R K Khullar, Principal Secretary to Khattar. She has a Master’s degree in medical education and was earlier posted as a health specialist with the UNICEF. She has also worked as a project director with the State AIDS Control Society, Chandigarh.
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Another shortlisted candidate is Dr Asha Sharma, daughter of Haryana Education Minister Ram Bilas Sharma. She is currently posted at the MLA hostel dispensary in Chandigarh. Her husband, Dr Prashant Sharma, died last year. The Haryana assembly, which was in session at the time, was adjourned for the day and Khattar broke down as he informed the House about it. Dr Sharma has an MBBS degree and around 20 years of experience.
Both Dr Trikha and Dr Sharma are learnt to be frontrunners for the post. Another shortlisted candidate is Dr Rakesh Talwar, who is posted as a senior medical officer at Haryana Raj Bhawan. Dr Talwar travels with Kaptan Singh Solanki, Governor of Punjab and Haryana, as per protocol.
The two others in the race are Gurmeet Kaur, a senior town planner in the Town and Country Planning Department, and Parmeshwar Mehra, an officer in the Excise and Taxation Department.
The selection process had started in January, when the government sought applications for the lone post, meant to be filled from a non-Haryana civil service officer. Sixteen people applied and five were shortlisted in a meeting held by Haryana Chief Secretary D S Dhesi.
The five will be interviewed by the UPSC before a final decision.
When contacted, Haryana Education Minister Sharma said, “I am not aware of the criteria that was followed. The government must have ensured that the requisite criteria is fulfilled.”
Principal Secretary Khullar said, “Officially, I have not seen this file ever as my wife was one of the candidates. The criteria that is followed every time would have been followed this time. When the file was coming to the CM for approval, I had passed the order that this file should not be shown to me.”
Dhesi did not respond to calls or messages seeking his comments.