Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, October 19
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has ruled that the Punjab Chief Secretary, Secretary, Department of Personnel, Financial Commissioner-Revenue (FCR) and the Legal Remembrancer (LR) acted contrary to the ambit and scope of the Punjab Civil Services (Executive Branch) (Class-I) Rules in filling up the Punjab Civil Service (Executive Branch) vacancies.
The admonition came as Justice Mahabir Singh Sindhu ruled that clubbing of vacancies of two years — 2013 and 2014 — was legally impermissible and illegal. “Their actions are indefensible in law, being violative of Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution,” Justice Sindhu asserted, adding that the panel/list of the eligible candidates for selection/ promotion was to be sent year-wise.
Justice Sindhu was hearing petitions by Balwinderpal Singh and other petitioner through senior advocates Rajiv Atma Ram and DS Patwalia, along with BS Patwalia, Vivek Sharma and Jatinder Pal Singh. Working as District Revenue Officers, they had challenged the non-inclusion of their names in Register A-1 maintained by the Chief Secretary for appointment to the posts.
Justice Sindhu observed the Department of Personnel, vide letter dated January 3, 2014, asked the FCR to send a panel/list of 27 eligible candidates against nine vacancies for 2013. The cut-off date for ascertaining age and experience was specifically mentioned as November 1, 2013.
The list and complete service record was to be sent by January 15, 2014, but was ultimately sent on May 25, 2015, after four reminders. The department, instead of forwarding the list, preferred to seek the opinion from the LR following the delay. It, vide an impugned corrigendum dated August 26, 2015, asked the FCR to send a panel/list of 30 eligible candidates against 10 vacancies on the premise that one more vacancy for 2014 had become available following delay. Justice Sindhu added the LR completely misunderstood the date of process initiation and the Chief Secretary did not care to consider the matter’s gravity and, rather in routine, approved the opinion.
The Bench quashed the impugned corrigendum, the second panel/list dated September 11, 2015, and the Punjab Public Service Commission recommendations dated February 8, 2016.
26 posts vacant
No less than 26 more vacancies have accumulated from Register A-1 due to pendency of the present writ petitions. Following interim stay in the matters, appointments were not made on the basis of recommendations dated February 8, 2016.