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Prabhjit Singh, Hindustan Times
Chandigarh, August 18, 2013
Punjab education minister Sikander Singh Maluka's close associate Gurtej Singh would resume work in the Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) on Monday as his suspension for the scandalous purchases in the education department has been revoked.
The suspension was revoked on Friday by PSEB chairperson Tejinder Kaur Dhaliwal, who had written to the state government on a plea that the functioning of the board was being adversely affected in Gurtej's absence.

"The working of the board was being adversely affected as Gurtej's services were needed for its better functioning," Dhaliwal told HT. She said the suspension was revoked "pending inquiry".

Gurtej was yet to be charge-sheeted after his suspension in May, along with two others,  SAS Nagar education officer Vinod Kumar and director elementary education Pritpal Kaur, after the infamous book scam was unearthed. The latter two, being attached with the education department, remain under suspension.

The three were handpicked by Maluka for a "purchase committee" that, in turn, made shady deals with different parties for the supply of library books, science lab kits and practical notebooks, flouting all norms for tendering out such supplies in the department.

The PSEB chairperson, in her communique to principal secretary school education Anjali Bhawra, had pleaded that Gurtej's resuming work in the board would not influence the inquiry in any way.

It is learnt that the school education department headed by Bhawra had also taken the consent of the Jindal Commission of inquiry before giving its nod to the PSEB to revoke Gurtej's suspension.

The principal secretary school education had suspended the three officials after a proper departmental inquiry into the reported scandalous purchases. The three accused in the scam had replied to the show-cause notices served to them after their suspension.

Gurtej's very appointment, to begin with, as clerk more than a decade ago has been found void in a probe conducted by a PSEB joint secretary on government orders after an anonymous complaint. The October 2012 report, submitted to the principal secretary as well as the PSEB chairperson, noted that Gurtej was illegally appointed on compassionate grounds after his father, a PSEB employee, died in 1998. It said Gurtej's mother was then an employee of the board, but concealed the fact to seek the job for her son.

Subsequently, he was made project officer, then became subject expert (computer) and deputy director, even as others hired as clerk with him have not risen above the rank of senior assistant.

Instead of any action against him, Gurtej was rather elevated as finance and development officer in February this year.

Gurtej, however, had claimed that he was being singled out in that inquiry as there were other such cases as well in the PSEB.