It can aptly be termed a dabang (brazen) order.Without an inquiry or following any administrative procedure, the services of about 1,500 “non-ex-servicemen” employees -- permanent or contractual -- serving in the Punjab ex-servicemen corporation for the past many years have been “terminated” summarily by a senior Punjab-cadre Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer.
In a single-page, six-line order, 1984-batch IAS officer Dharamvir, principal secretary, defence services welfare, dropped this bombshell on Lt Gen Kuldip Singh (retd), chairman-cum-managing director of the ex-servicemen corporation, on February 9.
The IAS officer, well known for remaining in “high spirits round the clock”, set ‘2pm, February 10’ as the deadline for Lt Gen Kuldip Singh for compliance of the order and also marked a copy of his order to chief secretary.
The officer directed the corporation to “intimate immediately the names of the “officers” who have recruited the non ex-servicemen, setting off a flurry of activity among the top management of the corporation while leaving the affected employees on tenterhooks.
“The services of the all recruited non-ex-servicemen are terminated forthwith... As per the provisions contained in the Punjab Ex-servicemen Act, 1978, only ex-servicemen can be recruited in the Punjab ex-servicemen corporation,” reads the February 9 order signed by Dharamvir on the state government’s letterhead.
This order, if implemented, will hit about 1,500 employees of the corporation, which has more than 8,000 workers on its rolls. Some of the affected staff has been in service for the past 15 years in the ministerial staff, sources said.
“We will abide by the government’s decision. We will also put across our point of view...,” Lt Gen Kuldip Singh (retd) told Hindustan Times.
According to a senior IAS officer, the “government” means the minister concerned -- in this case, Janmeja Singh Sekhon, who apart from holding the PWD (public works department) portfolio, is also the minister of the defence services department.
Government sources say as principal secretary Dharamvir issued the contentious order in the name of the “government of Punjab”, the minister’s approval on the file was imperative.
While the minister was not available for comment, Dharamvir said: “I am competent to issue the order on my own.”
Asked if any inquiry was done and the file put up before the competent authority, the principal secretary, defence services welfare, said: “I am aware of the manner non-ex-servicemen were employed by the corporation. They are not ex-servicemen, and as per the act, they have to go.”
While the corporation authorities have sought more time to file the reply, the mandarins in the government are baffled. “That a high-ranking IAS officer can take such a decision is beyond our comprehension. There is a set procedure which must be followed. This order is not administratively and legally tenable,” a senior government functionary said. firstname.lastname@example.org