iconimg Monday, March 30, 2015

HT Correspondent
Chandigarh, January 23, 2013
Appointments of three advisers and 2 officers on special duty (OSDs) to Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal made on "pick-and-choose basis" without issuing any advertisement has come under the scanner of the Punjab and Haryana high court. The advisers appointed on November 1, 2012, include Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal, Kamal Sharma and Kamal Oswal. The OSDs appointed on June 6, 2012, include Gurcharan Singh and Balkaran Singh.

Taking up a public interest litigation (PIL) on the matter filed by advocate Dinesh Chadha, a division bench comprising chief justice Arjan Kumar Sikri and justice Rakesh Kumar Jain on Wednesday issued notices of motion to the state government as well as the appointees and posted the matter for March 19.

The petitioner said the appointment of advisers, who had been given the status of cabinet ministers, and also OSDs were made without adopting any fair procedure of giving equal opportunity to the general public. The right to be considered for appointment against a public office is a matter that is guaranteed to all citizens under Article 16 of the Constitution.

The court was also informed that the state government had also been appointing chairpersons and vice-chairpersons of different boards and corporations in the state only on "political basis". In fact, when the petitioner sought information under the RTI Act, Punjab government's general administration department informed him that these appointments had been made "purely on political basis" and no eligibility criteria had been prescribed for these posts.

The RTI information also states that except for Kamal Oswal, on his own consent, other two advisers are receiving Rs. 30,000 monthly honorarium, up to Rs. 50,000 monthly house rent, up to Rs. 10,000 monthly telephone expenses, Rs. 2 lakh annual visiting allowance, Rs. 1,000 daily allowance during government visits, government vehicle with driver, petrol or diesel in car, Rs. 5,000 monthly entertainment expenses for office, a personal secretary, a clerk, a peon and medical facilities from the government exchequer.

The two OSDs get Rs. 30,000 monthly honorarium, telephone facility at office and residence, government house at Chandigarh and facility of government vehicle and driver out of the public funds.