The Punjab and Haryana high court on Tuesday gave the Punjab government a week to submit the number of vacancies of infor mation and public relations officer and explain its granting five extra marks to each of the rural-area candidates selected in 2011.
The court has summoned the relevant case record as well.
The division bench comprising justices Jasbir Singh and Harinder Singh Sidhu delivered the directions during resumed hearing of a case in which the HC had on May 8 put a stay on the state government decision of May 5 to dismiss six assistant public relations officers (APROs) appointed in July 2011 and induct six new officers based on a fresh merit list to comply with the single-judge-bench directions of January 30.
Until the next hearing on May 23, the stay orders will remain in force.
Of the fired PROs, Kuljit Mianpuri, Balwinder Kaur and Baljinder Singh are stationed in Chandigarh; Hardeep Singh at Barnala; and Avtar Singh and Gurpartap Kairon in Jalandhar. Megha Mann, Puneet Pal Singh Gill, Gagmeet Singh Aujala, Pa r mee tSingh , Balwinder Kumar, and Bhupesh Chatha are new officers.
On May 5, the state government had also demoted Subeg Singh (Chandigarh) and Jagdeep Singh Gill (Bathinda) from the post of deputy public relations officer (DPRO) to APRO. However, Narender Pal Singh and Amandeep Singh were promoted as DPRO.
NEW APPOINTEES APPROACH COURT
On Tuesday, the six newappointed APROs approached the court, challenging the May 8 decision of putting stay on their appointments. “The new appointees have resigned from their previous organisations and undergoing medical examination. Two of them have even joined,” said senior advocate Rajiv Atma Ram, appearing for them. He further argued: “The single judge had relied on a full-bench order (Abhishek Rishi case, 2013) that the grant of five additional marks to rural candidates was unfair. Here the criterion was framed at the CM level after the written test. These people (selected initially) have come over and above the merit candidates.”
Senior advocate Gurminder Singh, representing candidates who were appointed initially, objected and said: “These people have come to court for the first time after selections three years ago. The government awarded five marks (to each rural candidate) in every examination after judgment in the Sudesh Rani case (2010) until it was stayed in 2013.”
After the aver ments of senior advocate Ram, justice Jasbir Singh asked him: “Have you ever stayed in a village for a week? You can’t stay even where electricity is supplied for four hours a day. There is a deficiency of teachers in schools and t he gover nment is doing nothing. They (rural candidates) are also citizens of the country, and they should also be considered.”