The cash-strapped Punjab government has decided to park seven more persons, including a retired Indian Police Service officer, three Akali Dal followers and three women, as commissioners on the Punjab Right to Service (RTS) Commission.
Government sources say Rajinder Parshad Mittal, IPS (retd), Jagdeep Singh Cheema, Lakhwinder Singh Lakhi, Jagmeet Kaur Sandhu (all from Akali Dal), Kamaldeep Bhandari, Nimrit Kaur and Pankaj Kumar are set to be appointed as commissioners for five years or till the age of 65, whichever is earlier.
Punjab Governor VP Singh Badnore has cleared the file after chief minister Parkash Singh Badal recommended the names, they added.
The government had enacted the Punjab Right To Service Act-2011 with the objective of providing an effective framework for time-bound delivery of services being provided by different departments in order to promote transparency and accountability.
Earlier, the commission consisted of a chief commissioner and four commissioners.
The poll-bound Akali Dal-BJP government with an eye on rehabilitating its workers and loyalists had increased the strength of the commission from four to 10 members in the August 2015.
Though the ordinance was approved in September 2015, the government could not implement the move due to legal hurdles.
The alibi of government in increasing the posts is that the work load of the commission has increased many
folds as the number of services notified under RTS Act- 2011 has increased from initially notified 67 services to 351 services of the different departments.
“In order to tackle the workload, an increase in number of commissioners from 4 to 10 is urgently required. This will ensure timely and efficient delivery of public services to citizens,” reads a note prepared by the government.
Over 40 candidates, including retired IPS and IAS officers, had applied and were lobbying to get the lucrative post after retirement.
The search committee headed by chief secretary Sarvesh Kaushal and comprising Jagpal Singh
Sandhu (additional chief secretary-Home), Lt Gen BS Dhaliwal (technical adviser to CM), and RK Verma (secretary, governance reforms) had scrutinised the applications in its August 24 meeting.
The search committee prepared two panels—one to fill the vacancy arising out from the retirement of
Iqbal Singh Sandhu (retired IAS) and second to fill six newly created posts of commissioners.
Two retired IAS officers Raminder Singh and Dharmjit Singh Grewal lost the race to politically well-connected Rajinder Parshad Mittal.