Graduation is set to be the basic academic criterion to become a patwari (revenue record official) in Punjab as the Parkash Singh Badal government is gearing up to recruit 1,200 patwaris — an exercise being started after a 22-year gap.
The Punjab cabinet, in its last meeting held close on the heels of the model code of conduct coming into force on March 5, had given the nod to appoint 600 patwaris within this fiscal, apart from 300 each in the next two years before the second term of the Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP regime ends in early 2017, government sources said.
As the last recruitment of patwaris was held in 1992, the government is amending the recruitment rules to raise the basic academic requirement from matriculation to graduation — Bachelor of Arts or equivalent. The rule-amending file will shortly be placed before the legal remembrancer for notification of the rules.
The revenue and rehabilitation department, being headed by cabinet minister Bikram Singh Majithia, whose persona evokes strong reactions across the state and who is being blamed for a majority of the hot-button issues dominating the border state, has decided to hold this recruitment through Panjab University, Chandigarh.
“There will be no interview. The recruitment will be based solely on merit in the written examination, which will be objective-type. This will help eliminate even the remote possibility of pulls and pressures at any level,” a government functionary said.
The authorities are mulling a proposal to use optical mark reading (OMR) sheets for the written test, the result of which may be declared at the earliest. The OMR sheets are used in most of the competitive examinations.
Students have to mark their answers by darkening circles marked on a pre-printed sheet. Later, the OMR sheet is evaluated by a scanning machine.
Currently, more than 1,600 posts of patwaris are vacant in the revenue department, which is notorious due to alleged rampant corruption, beginning from patwaris, who are accused of tampering with revenue records.
Despite recruiting 1,200 patwaris in the next three years, in 2017, the number of vacant posts of patwaris will rise further as a large number of these officials are slated to superannuate.
Officials estimate that more than 1,000 posts are likely to fall vacant in the last year of the state government’s term.
Recently, the Punjab and Haryana high court-mandated tribunal — investigating fraudulent land deals in and around Chandigarh in Punjab and headed by justice Kuldeep Singh (retd) — had dubbed the institutions of patwaris/kanungos “to be highly corrupt” and recommended to abolish them in a phased manner, drawing sharp reactions from the unions of patwaris.