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HindustanTimes Mon,22 Sep 2014

PTI scam: Illegal appointees still in the job

Prabhjit Singh, Hindustan Times  CHANDIGARH, February 07, 2014
First Published: 00:38 IST(7/2/2014) | Last Updated: 00:43 IST(7/2/2014)

More than four months after an official probe zeroed in on 16 illegal appointments of physical training instructors (PTIs) in Punjab schools and the recruitment of 41 others under a cloud all of them are still continuing in service.

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Director, public instruction (DPI), secondary school education, Kamal Garg issued showcause notices to these 16 appointees on January 18 for termination of their services, seeking their replies within 21 days. Garg, when contacted, said the replies were still awaited.

"We cannot dismiss them without having their explanation. There are rules to be followed," he said.

He, however, confirmed that the notices were a step towards terminating their services on the basis of the findings of the inquiry report.

When asked why he took so long to serve the notices, he said he was awaiting the nod of the government (principal secretary, school education) to initiate the process after the inquiry findings.

The DPI reasserted that the 41 questionable appointments were "valid", contradicting the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) record, saying that the candidates were among those who were appointed "to clear the backlog" in another lot.

The overlapping of these 41 appointees among the 849 selected in the batch of 2006 remains to be explained by the education department.

On why deputy director Neelam Bhagat (now retired) was the only official named in the complaint to the police for recommending an FIR in the case, Garg said, "Let the police investigate the entire matter. Let Neelam name her conduits in these recruitments."

He said there were others also "who knew what was happening as she (Neelam) alone could not have executed the entire process, that includes the job of a typist or computer clerk in making the merit list."

While the DPI had written for the registration of a criminal case against Neelam, there has been no move to register cases against those who got appointments through illegal means.

One of the appointees in question said on the condition of anonymity that some of them would move court for a stay on the process of dismissing them from service on the plea of challenging the entire inquiry conducted by the DPI's office.

Another official of the education department said the process of terminating wrong appointments would take too long as the final inquiry to prove these appointments as illegal would have to be initiated again at the hands of an inquiry officer under Rule 8 of the Punishment and Appeals State Service Rules.

Such final inquiries are mainly entrusted to a retired IAS official.

21 days to reply
The 16 physical training instructors who were served 21-day showcause notices, asking them to explain why they should not be dismissed, are Jasvir Kaur, Rajpal Kaur and Gagandeep Kaur (Jalandhar district), Loveleen (Barnala), Manjinder Singh (Mansa), Prabhdeep Singh, Gurvinder Singh and Jatinder Singh (Ludhiana), Gurpreet Singh (Patiala), Rajwinderpal Kaur and Asha Rani (Sangrur), Archana Sudha and Sarbjeet Kaur (Hoshiarpur), Sardar Singh (Ferozepur), Manjit Kaur (Moga) and Kiranjit Kaur (Bathinda).

The scam
Of the 849 candidates appointed as physical training instructors (PTIs) in government schools in July-August 2011, 53 had not even applied, as per the C-DAC record, while 17 others were either under-qualified or superseded those higher on the merit list
 
The revelation
A group of rejected candidates had procured the entire record of the recruitment process under the RTI Act and detected these 70 appointments as "illegal" in August 2012

The probe
The probe has zeroed in on only 16 such appointments as illegal, of the total 70 appointees summoned earlier for cross-checking
 
What next?
These 16 appointees have been told to reply to the showcause notices by February 9, after which the procedure for their dismissal would be initiated under the Punjab Services Punishment and Appeals Rules

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