The Punjab education department has failed to implement recommendations of an inquiry report, which had called for immediate revocation of out-of-turn promotions of 258 vocational masters as principals in senior secondary schools after finding that these were made in violation of service rules.
As a result, about 110 vocational masters who fulfil the requisite qualification and other parameters are still awaiting promotion.
The inquiry had been conducted by then additional secretary, school education, Sanjay Popli, who had submitted the report to then education minister Sewa Singh Sekhwan on April 11 last year.
When contacted, principal secretary, education, SS Channy said the issue came to the fore much before he was given the charge of the department. "But I will surely look into the matter and do the needful," he added.
Tirath Singh Bhatoa, president, Senior Vocational Masters' Association, Punjab, said the government was dithering over taking action on the probe report as close relatives of Akali cabinet minister Gulzar Singh Ranike and Darbara Singh Guru, former principal secretary to Punjab chief minister, had also been beneficiaries of these out-of-turn promotions.
Though the probe report was submitted in April last year, then principal secretary, education, C Roul, and his successor, Husan Lal, kept sitting on it. The latter even promoted another set of 61 vocational masters as principals in violation of rules on February 18, when the model code of conduct for the assembly polls was in still in force, said Bhatoa.
"On May 28, we met Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, who promised justice to the teaching fraternity," he added.
Then education minister Sekhwan had ordered a probe after a delegation of vocation masters met him on March 4, 2011, and complained that promotions had been given to many junior vocational masters at the cost of seniors. The promotions were made under a pick-and-choose policy, the delegation had told Sekhwan.
The delegation members said they had been working as vocational masters for the past 30 years. They said promotions of vocational masters ordered by the Punjab government on December 22, 2009, and April 29, 2010, under Punjab Educational Services were not in accordance with the rules and the seniority list issued by the department.
In the 25-page probe report, Popli said the promotions of vocational masters as principals, ordered by the state government, had been made by distorting, misinterpreting, setting aside and going beyond the rules in an unlawful manner, as a result of which these were null and void.
The report said the officer on special duty (OSD, litigation) has tried to justify the government's action with unlawful pleas. The advice given by the OSD from the initial stage is against the statutory rules, the report added.
"It is well-established, acknowledged and settled that no executive order, opinion, or even desirability can override the lawful authority of the rules. Therefore, the aforementioned order of the government is neither based on rules nor is corroborated by the law, and consequentially, the government has no other tenable option or alternative, except to rescind or revoke it in accordance with the unassailable legal position of the Rules of 2004. Accordingly, it is recommended that promotions made in Punjab Educational Services should be rescinded and revoked with immediate effect," Popli said in the report's conclusion.