The Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) here has directed the Punjab government to appoint Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer Himmat Singh on a post equivalent to that of chief secretary within two weeks. Himmat, a 1980-batch officer of the Punjab cadre, had moved the CAT in August 2016 challenging the SAD-BJP government’s decision of denying him the “status and responsibility” of post equivalent to CS for more than three years.
He had stated that he was entitled to the post as being a 1980-batch officer. Sarvesh Kaushal, the current Punjab chief secretary, is from the 1982 batch.
Himmat had been appointed member secretary of the Punjab State Women Commission on March 16, 2012. He had told the CAT, “I was made to work under the chairperson of the commission who had the rank of a secretary and such a procedure is totally illegal and without precedent as a junior officer cannot be put in-charge of the work and conduct of a senior officer.”
In October 2015, the CAT had directed the Punjab government to refrain from taking any coercive action against Himmat Singh and to not force him to join as member secretary till the pendency of this case, informed Rakesh Sharma, counsel for the state.
According to the judgment now, the 2012 posting order was “vitiated on account of arbitrary exercise of power and deserves to be quashed.”
Also, an order of March 29, 2012, that equated the post of member secretary of the commission with chief secretary was also quashed by the CAT: “It is evident that work expected to be performed by the member secretary, state women commission can by no stretch of imagination be considered to be equal in responsibility to that of the chief secretary.”
It added, ”The member secretary of the commission performs a purely clerical function. He/she is only to record and convey the decisions of the commission. He/she has no independent authority, discretion or power.” And said , “There has been unlawful denial of facilities and entitlements which go with the post of chief secretary.”