SIDELINED BY the SAD-BJP government, seniormost Punjab IAS officer Himmat Singh got a big relief as the Central Administrative Tribunal ordered his appointment within two weeks to a post equivalent to that of chief secretary. It also quashed two chargesheets against Singh in the alleged Citrus Council scam and for going on a long medical leave.
CAT found that the state government orders “smack of malafide intent” and are “vitiated on account of arbitrary exercise of power”.
Allowing 1980-batch IAS officer Singh’s application, CAT’s Chandigarh bench, while coming down heavily on Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, said, “The order of equivalence has been issued without application of mind by the competent authority that directed the issue of the posting order i.e. the chief minister of the state.”
The SAD-BJP government had appointed 1982-batch IAS officer Sarvesh Kaushal as chief secretary and made Singh Punjab State Women Commission secretary on March 16, 2012, thereby equating the post with that of chief secretary. Both orders were quashed.
The IAS officer’s counsel NS Boparai submitted that Singh was appointed to a much junior post, which according to rules is to be filled by a woman IAS officer at the level of joint secretary. “Even the rank and status of the commission chairperson is that of an administrative secretary and the applicant, being of the rank of chief secretary, could not be placed in a position under his junior officer,” said Boparai, adding that just to belittle Singh, the government denied him facilities like residential accommodation.
CAT also quashed the chargesheet against Singh for claiming reimbursement of Rs 6.41 lakh for expenses incurred as vice-president of the Council of Citrus and Agri-Juicing Punjab from 2007-09.