It has been more than a year but the SAS Nagar police are yet to make a breakthrough in the physical training instructors (PTI) recruitment scam case involving at least 50 recruits who had not even applied for the job, despite the lodging of the FIR in March 2014.
After the HT had exposed the scandalous recruitment in August 2013, the education department had initiated its own inquiry after which the then director primary instructions (DPI), school education, Kamal Garg, had put the onus on deputy director Neelam Bhagat by getting the FIR lodged against her as the main accused and seven others, who were among the 51 illegal recruits who had not even applied for the job.
Confirming that the police were yet to file a challan in the SAS Nagar district court, assistant sub-inspector Harpal Singh told HT that he had “almost completed the inquiry for the challan to the filed soon”.
The scandalous recruitments took place during the tenure of education minister Sikandar Singh Maluka, who after the HT expose had said that those recruited illegally would be thrown out.
The case was registered against Bhagat and seven others under Sections 420 (cheating), 465 (forgery), 467 (forgery of official record), 468 (forgery for cheating), 471 (using as genuine a forged document or electronic record) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC.
DPI, school education, Balbir Singh Dhol said he was “not upto-date with the case”, as the FIR was lodged by his predecessor Kamal Garg.
DEPARTMENTAL PROBE IN WAITING TOO
Bhagat is also facing a regular inquiry for a major penalty under Rule 8 of the Punjab Service Rules, which the principal secretary school education C Roul had entrusted to a retired civil judge in January this year.
Notwithstanding the norms of such regular inquiries to be completed within the stipulated four months, by April in this case, the inquiry officer is yet to submit his report to the principal secretary, school education.
Education minister Daljit Singh Cheema said he was seized of the matter and the government was waiting for the inquiry report against Bhagat. “I will look into the matter to know the current status,” he said, when asked why there was a delay since the illegal recruitments were exposed.
Bhagat, who was the chairperson of the PTIs recruitment committee to select 849 PTIs in all before retiring in September 2012, is also facing a legal case in the Punjab and Haryana high cour t, besides in the education department for the said recruitment challenged by the aggrieved candidates.
The high court had asked the department during the last hearing in July to produce “the records in original”, pertaining to these 51 specific people at the hearing (September 10).
But the dilemma is that the education department had submitted an affidavit in the Punjab Information Commission that it did not have any record related to these specific names or persons whose appointments were under question.
Both the high court and the information commission were moved by the aggrieved applicants who were dropped despite being on merit, as per their litigation.