EC directs state govt to shift ‘tainted’ ROs | india | Hindustan Times
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EC directs state govt to shift ‘tainted’ ROs

The Election Commission has directed the Punjab government to shift the reappointed Punjab Civil Service (PCS) officers whose names had surfaced in the 2002 PPSC cash-for-job scam and who are currently holding the post of returning officer. Pawan Sharma reports.

india Updated: Dec 26, 2011 23:05 IST
Pawan Sharma

The Election Commission has directed the Punjab government to shift the reappointed Punjab Civil Service (PCS) officers whose names had surfaced in the 2002 PPSC cash-for-job scam and who are currently holding the post of returning officer.

In the past four months, the Badal government had reappointed certain PCS officers whose selection is under the scanner of the Punjab and Haryana high court, and posted them as sub-divisional magistrates (SDMs).

SDMs hold the post of returning officers during elections. Hindustan Times had first reported that Punjab’s chief electoral officer (CEO) Kusumjit Sidhu had taken up the matter with the EC on December 15 seeking advice regarding five officers whose reappointment was under shadow. The CEO wanted to know from the EC if these officers could continue to function as ROs. At least five such officers are at present ROs in the state.

Sources in the EC said that the Punjab CEO’s communication was considered at length by the EC which, on December 23, shot off a letter directing that all these officers whose appointment was still under scrutiny of the high court should be immediately removed from the post of RO. The EC has directed the state government to send a panel of officers.

It is understood that Punjab’s home department functionaries met CEO Sidhu on Sunday apparently to discuss this matter. The government is facing shortage of PCS officers and is finding it difficult to provide the replacements.

In the past few months, the election-bound ruling alliance had reappointed at least four tainted PCS officers, apart from five named by the CEO in her letter to EC, even as the vigilance bureau had filed a challan against them.

The government appointed these tainted officers on an undertaking that their reappointment will be subject to the ruling of the high court, which has reserved the order.

These reappointed officers’ names figure in the list of 40 candidates—who were held as “tainted” by a three-judge committee of the high court set up on the directions of the Supreme Court to separate the tainted candidates from the non-tainted ones—selected to executive posts by the PPSC during the chairmanship of Ravinderpal Singh Sidhu.

Now, the high court has reserved the ruling on the findings of the three-judge panel.