A top officer in the Punjab forest department is continuing on his post despite the denial of extension by the central government's Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC).
Principal chief conservator of forests HS Gujral, who superannuated on September 30, has not vacated the post so far. When the Centre denied the state government's case for extension, the latter decided to move a case for Gujral's re-employment for three months. The state government is expected to take a decision on re-employment soon.
As per the order of the department of forests and wildlife preservation, issued on September 30 itself, Gujral was given extension for three months in anticipation of approval from the Centre.
While the officer has drawn October's salary despite denial of permission by the Centre, the state government sought legal opinion from the advocate general, Punjab, which suggested that instead of extension, Gujral could be re-employed, which is claimed to be the state government's prerogative.
"The advice from the advocate general on November 6 says that the state government can re-employ Gujral for three months as per rule 9 of the Indian Administrative Service/police cadre rules, 1954, which covers Indian Forest Service (IFS) officials," DS Bains, financial commissioner, forests and wildlife preservation, Punjab, told HT. He added that Gujral would continue for three months or hand over the charge before that if a suitable incumbent was selected.
Bains said chief secretary Rakesh Singh was supposed to issue orders for the departmental promotion committee meeting, while hoping that the meet would be held soon.
"I am not aware of denial of permission for extension by the Centre," Gujral told HT, adding that he would continue as long as the state government desired.
The earlier order signed by Bains says, "…whereas a proposal for extension in service of HS Gujral, IFS, principal chief conservator forests and head of the forest force, Punjab, for a period of six months beyond his date of superannuation on September 30, is presently under consideration of the government of India, the governor of Punjab is pleased to approve extension of three months in his service… up to December 31 in anticipation of approval of the government of India in public interest."
The state government moved the case of six months' extension for Gujral on July 23 under Rule 16 of the all-India service (death-cum-retirement benefits) rules, 1958.
Denying permission to the Punjab government for extension to Gujral, the union ministry of environment and forests wrote to the state chief secretary on October 24, saying that the department of personnel and training, union ministry of personnel, public grievances and pensions, had said that the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet had declined the proposal for extension in service in respect of HS Gujral beyond his superannuation (September 30).