Court quashes appointment of Punjab public service body chief

August 18th, 2011 - 12:36 am ICT by IANS  

Chandigarh, Aug 17 (IANS) In a major embarrassment for the Parkash Singh Badal government, the Punjab and Haryana High Court Wednesday quashed the controversial appointment of former Shiromani Akali Dal legislator Harish Rai Dhanda as chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC).

A bench of the court comprising justices Hemant Gupta, Permod Kohli and K. Kannan observed in its 64-page order Wednesday that the selection process for the coveted post of PPSC chairman, which is a constitutional body, by the Punjab government was not transparent and objective.

The court observed that no effort was made to choose the best talent available.

Dhanda was an Akali Dal legislator and a chief parliamentary secretary (CPS) in the Punjab government till recently and had quit both offices just before the Punjab government announced his name to become the PPSC chairman.

Dhanda’s swearing in ceremony, scheduled July 13 at Punjab Raj Bhawan, had to be called off at the last minute after the high court showed its intention to stay it. An embarrassed Punjab government chose to stop the swearing in on its own.

The opposition Congress had objected to the Akali Dal government appointing a sitting legislator to the PPSC chairman’s post. The PPSC makes all Class-I and high-level appointments in the state.

The matter came up before the high court last month through a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by a local lawyer.

“The decision making process on the basis of material produced shows that the appointment was made with a pre-conceived mind and in a determined manner to appoint Dhanda as chairman of the commission. It cannot be said that the Dhanda was the only candidate who could be considered and appointed for such an assignment,” the court order observed.

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