The son of former Punjab Vidhan Sabha speaker Nirmal Singh Kahlon has trounced the daughter-in-law of education minister Sikander Singh Maluka in the initial administrative battle of getting into the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) through the nomination route.
The screening committee led by chief secretary Rakesh Singh has selected Amritsar district health officer Dr Shiv Karan Singh Kahlon as one of the five candidates for the single IAS post to be filled up through the nomination route, while another heavyweight, additional director general of school education (DGSE) Parampal Kaur, daughter-in-law of education minister Sikander Singh Maluka, has lost the race, say sources in the government.
This is for the second time that the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) government has selected Dr Kahlon for the post in question after 2011 when the process of selection was marred by controversy and some of the rejected candidates took the legal recourse. The screening committee led by the chief secretary and comprising principal secretaries DS Bains (home) and Jagpal Singh Sandhu (transport) also shortlisted ML Sharma (economic adviser to the Punjab government), Mohan Veer Singh (additional director of technical education), and Dr Preneet Girdhar.
The state government's next step will be to send this panel of names to Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). The senior-most member of the UPSC, the Punjab chief secretary and a senior IAS officer of the Punjab cadre will interview the shortlisted candidates. Dr Kahlon, MBBS and 1974-born, was among 26 Punjab government officials angling for the IAS post, as they'll not have to appear in the written examination.
The panel was prepared on the basis of a specific criteria prepared by the personnel department for shortlisting the candidates. Politically-connected Dr Kahlon was appointed medical officer in Haryana originally during the Om Prakash Chautala regime in October 2000 and "absorbed" in Punjab by the-then Parkash Singh Badal government in January 2001.
Ostensibly, using political clout to the hilt, Dr Kahlon 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, Nirmal Singh Kahlon, was then rural development minister in Punjab.
Official documents with HT suggest that Dr Kahlon had joined the HCMS on November 11, 2000, on the "recommendation of Haryana Public Service Commission" on a regular basis. On December 15, 2000, the Punjab government had approached the Haryana government officially, saying: "…Dr Shiv Karan Singh… has requested to the government of Punjab for his absorption." The process kick-started on December 15, 2000, and culminated on January 22, 2001, with Dr Kahlon's joining as medical officer in Punjab.