Inability to pass the compulsory departmental examination can also lead to dismissal from a secured and cushy government job. That’s the grim reality staring at 15 excise and taxation inspectors of Punjab recruited directly in March 2012.
Their ouster has become imminent after deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who also holds the excise and taxation portfolio, on Tuesday refused to adopt any lenient recourse or explore legal options such as amending the rules retrospectively to retain these inspectors, senior government functionaries told Hindustan Times.
As per the rules, the excise inspectors have to clear the departmental exam in a maximum of five chances and within 30 months of being appointed. The department conducts the exam in April and November every year and failure leads to automatic dismissal.
The excise department authorities have already served showcause notices to these group-C excise inspectors of the 2012-batch, while three inspectors, who had failed to pass the departmental examination within the stipulated period, have already been dismissed.
On Tuesday evening, the matter was placed before Sukhbir in the wake of personnel department headed by chief minister Parkash Singh Badal citing rules refused to give a mercy chance to these officials as proposed by the excise and taxation department on compassionate grounds.
The deputy CM has agreed with the decision of the CM (that rules don’t provide for a mercy chance), government sources said.
The excise and taxation department had mooted the proposal of giving mercy chance to these inspectors on the grounds that there is a provision of giving two mercy chances to Punjab Civil Service (PCS) officers if they flunk the departmental examinations after exhausting all chances. There is, however, no such provision in the rules of the excise and taxation department.
While dealing with this tricky issue, the personnel department headed by the CM, had given an elbow room to the excise department to explore the option of amending the service rules and seek a cabinet nod.
On Wednesday, top rung officials of the deputy CM office held discussions to explore possible legal or administrative options. The officials were of the view that only option was to amend the rules for which the cabinet approval would be required.
But, to bail out the officials in question, the rules will have to be amended retrospectively—a decision that is legally may not be tenable. “We can amend the rules prospectively and not retrospectively. If rules are amended retrospectively in this case, it will be like turning illegal into a legal,” said government sources.
Another safe option before the government, instead of amending rules, is to wait and watch as the affected officials may challenge their dismissal in the high court.