Recruitment to 85 posts in the Centre for Punjab Youth Training and Employment (C-PYTE) is under the scanner, as the Punjab and Haryana high court has directed the state vigilance bureau (VB) to probe allegations of favouritism in the hiring process, which took place in 2010, and submit a report in six months.
The decision comes as yet another blow from the previous term for the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (SAD-BJP) government, which was re-elected barely six months ago. A bench of the high court comprising acting chief justice Jasbir Singh and justice Rakesh Kumar Jain on September 14 directed the principal secretary of the department of employment generation and training to refer the matter to the VB.
The C-PYTE was set up during the peak of terrorism in Punjab with an aim to wean youngsters away from violence and train them for jobs, especially for paramilitary forces.
Pritam Singh Kaure, a retired district welfare officer from Ludhiana, first exposed the scam when he alleged that Rohi Ram, the then deputy director (social welfare for SC/BC), gave undue favour to his relatives. Rohi Ram was a nominee on the recruitment panel of the C-PYTE when selections of camp commandant, deputy director, adjutants, senior assistants, stenographers, education instructors, drivers, waiters and cooks were made.
A preliminary inquiry conducted by welfare department joint director Bindu Walia, and then by additional director Lakha Singh, favoured a VB probe -- opining that "more startling revelations would come out" - after relatives of Rohi Ram were found to have been hired despite not qualifying on merit. In particular, Rohi Ram's son Reghan Kumar was chosen for the post of stenographer-cum-typist, even when he had secured zero in shorthand and typing tests that carried 25 marks each.
The probe pointed out that Rohi Ram and the then director general, C-PYTE, Brigadier (retired) GJ Singh, made the final decisions. And it made specific reference to a letter carrying the signatures of Brig Singh, which said, "Candidates sponsored by Deputy Director Welfare Rohi Ram."
Many other relatives of Rohi Ram, who retired from the department this June, were inducted despite not qualifying on merit, the preliminary probe found.
"If it is found that any relation of the accused was inducted into services showing favour, he or she be shown the door and further action be taken against the concerned officer. The vigilance department is also directed to inquire into financial dealings done by C-PYTE within the last two years... The inquiry shall be completed within six months," the high court has now ruled, disposing of a petition filed by one Lajpal Singh Bains.