iconimg Monday, March 30, 2015

Prabhjit Singh, Hindustan Times
Chandigarh, August 23, 2013
Another scam has come to light in Punjab's beleaguered education department. This one pertains to the recruitment of 53 people who didn't even apply for posts of physical training instructor (PTI) in government schools, according to information procured under the Right To Information (RTI) Act.

Nine others were appointed despite having marks far less than the cut-off, while two each had not cleared Class 12 or did not have any professional certificate/degree. Three candidates obtained the professional certificate/degree long after the applications were filed.

These tainted appointees (70 in all) were among the 849 PTI teachers selected "on merit" in July-August 2012 by the secondary education departmental selection committee, chaired by director, public instruction (DPI, secondary education), Kamal Garg.

It took RTI applicants almost a year to obtain this vital Information after the intervention of the Punjab Information Commission. Among the information seekers were several eligible, well-qualified candidates, some of whom have masters degree in physical education (MPEd), who were not selected.

It was in 2006 that the education department had sought online applications for PTI recruitments, fixing CPEd (certificate in physical education) as the eligibility. Those with higher qualification such as DPEd (diploma in physical education) and MPEd had approached the Punjab and Haryana high court in 2007 for a revised merit, keeping their credentials into consideration.

On September 26, 2011, after four-year-long litigation, the high court directed the state government to revise the merit. As per the court orders, the department appointed 849 candidates last year.

The department is still smarting from the book scam and the library kit scam, which surfaced earlier this year, leading to a probe by a central team.

'They will be sacked'

When contacted, education minister Sikander Singh Maluka acknowledged that he was seized of the matter.

"Those who never applied would be sacked," he said.

He, however, gave the clean chit to DPI (secondary education) Kamal Garg, the chairman of the selection committee.

"How can you say that the DPI is at fault?" he argued, when it was pointed out that the onus of the appointments rested on the committee chairman.

When asked whether any time frame had been fixed to identify wrongly appointed candidates, he said, "I cannot comment further than that those selected wrongly will be fired."

DPI (secondary education) Kamal Garg told HT that he had marked an inquiry into the matter to a deputy director in his department after aggrieved candidates raised the matter with the minister concerned.

Garg made it clear that he had received no formal order from the minister or the principal secretary, school education, to probe the matter.

"I do not know how it (illegal recruitment) happened. Let us probe the matter," he said.

Info concealed

Interestingly, the DPI's office omitted columns of educational and other qualifications of 53 appointees while providing RTI information. When cross-checked with official C-DAC (Centre for Development of Advanced Computing) data, it was found that these recruits had not even applied for the posts.