A politically well-connected medical officer originally appointed in Haryana during Om Prakash Chautala's regime in October 2000 and "absorbed" in Punjab by then Parkash Singh Badal government in January 2001 is now in the race to become a Punjab-cadre Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer through the nomination route.
The 1974-born Dr Shiv Karan Singh (MBBS), son of senior Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader and former Punjab Vidhan Sabha speaker Nirmal Singh Kahlon, is among more than two dozen Punjab government officials angling for the sole IAS post to be filled through nomination and without appearing in the written examination. Friday was the last day for sending in applications and Dr Singh was the only applicant whose case was forwarded by the health department, even as there are many more experienced and better qualified doctors in the state, top government sources said.
But what has led to the raising of eyebrows is the method and the breakneck speed with which Dr Singh, ostensibly using political clout to the hilt, had joined the Punjab Civil Medical Service (PCMS) in January 2001 "on absorption basis" within three months of joining the Haryana Civil Medical Service (HCMS). His father was then the rural development minister of Punjab.
According to official documents Hindustan Times has accessed from Haryana as well as Punjab governments, Kahlon's son had joined the HCMS on November 11, 2000, on the "recommendations of the Haryana Public Service Commission" on a regular basis.
The Punjab government had on December 15, 2000, officially approached the Haryana government, saying: "…Dr Shiv Karan Singh… has requested to the government of Punjab for his absorption." While preparing this case, the Punjab government sought five-point information from Haryana, such as "whether Haryana will relieve him if appointed by the Punjab government on transfer basis" and the details of appointment.
This proposal was given top priority by G Madhavan, then financial commissioner and secretary (health), Haryana, whose January 7, 2001, order states, "It is understood that he (Dr Shiv Karan Singh) is a son of rural development minister, Punjab, and as such he wants absorption in the state of Punjab." Madhavan's note also stated that if agreed, the director general, health services, "may be asked" to send a proposal "for the absorption of services" of Dr Singh.
Haryana had on January 10, 2001, given the green signal to the Punjab government for "absorption" of Dr Singh, while pointing out, "The Haryana government will relieve him if appointed by the Punjab government on transfer/absorption basis with the condition that his lien will not be kept in the HCMS cadre…"
This communiqué further pointed out that Dr Singh had joined on November 15, 2000, and that he had also not "completed his probation period."
On January 16, 2001, the Punjab government issued an appointment letter to Dr Singh on "transfer/absorption basis" in the PCMS, while on January 19, the Haryana government issued an order to "transfer" him in "Punjab government on absorption basis." The process kickstarted on December 15, 2000, culminated on January 22, 2001, with Dr Singh joining as a medical officer in Punjab.
'Why are you after me?'
Dr Shiv Karan Singh, presently posted as district health officer in Amritsar, said he was absorbed by the Punjab government after being interviewed by the authorities concerned and following the due procedure.
"I was selected in Punjab after I was duly interviewed by the board… It was a fresh appointment in Punjab… moreover I don't recall much…" he said when contacted.
"But why are you after me? I have not done anything against you…" Dr Singh said.
Referring to his application for the IAS nomination, he said: "To be a son of somebody is not a crime. Am I not eligible? Everybody has a right to apply for the IAS post in question. Please don't single me out."
Maluka's daughter-in-law also in fray
A committee headed by chief secretary Rakesh Singh will finalise the panel of five candidates for the IAS post.
Parampal Kaur, controversial daughter-in-law of education minister Sikander Singh Maluka, is also in the race to become an IAS through the nomination route. Among more than 24 applicants are two officials of the public relations department additional director Senu Duggal and joint director Opinder Singh Lamba.
The personnel department has sent a file to the chief minister's office for deciding the criteria to be followed in shortlisting the candidates.
The state government's next step would be to send a panel of five candidates to the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). A UPSC member, the Punjab chief secretary and a senior IAS officer of the Punjab cadre will interview the shortlisted candidates.