Six top-ranking ar my of ficers, in service as well as retired, are vying for the coveted post of Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) chairman, which is vacant since lieutenant general MS Buttar (retired) demitted office in May after about nine-month stint.
Among the serving ar my of ficers eyeing the post are lieutenant general Balbir Pama; lieutenant general TS Gill and major general CP Singh; while Lieutenant General NS Bawa (retd); Major General Karan Amol Singh Bhullar (retd) and major general KS Thind (retd) have also sent in applications, according to top Punjab government sources.
The chairman and members of this commission hold office for a fixed term of six years or until the age of 62. The Punjab government had constituted a three-member search committee headed by chief secretary Rakesh Singh to fill the vacancy and June 6 was the deadline for applying.
Financial commissioner (revenue) NS Kang and lieutenant g eneral BS Dhaliwal ( ret d), adviser (technical) to the chief minister, are other members of the search committee that will recommend a panel of names to a high-powered committee comprising chief minister Parkash Singh Badal; Punjab Vidhan Sabha speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal and state leader of opposition Sunil Jakhar.
As the government had invited applications from “eminent people of impeccable integrity, calibre and administrative experience from all walks of life”, at least 25 people ranging from a Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader to two matriculates and a recently retired bureaucrat sent in their applications for this constitutional post.
Son of for mer cabinet minister Chaudhary Swarna Ram and former Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) legislator Mohan Lal, who had lost the last assembly election in Banga, is the only candidate with political background among the applicants.
The prominent bureaucrat joining this hot race is 1982batch Punjab-cadre Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer Sarwan Singh Channy, who retired last month from the post of principal secretary (home affairs and justice).
Another applicant from the Indian Administrative Service is SS Johal. Sources say Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer Baldee p Singh Sandhu, currently commissioner of income tax in Kolkata, sitting Punjab Public Service Commission member HS Grewal, and two overage matriculates, including a retired assistant revenue clerk also are in the race. Besides, there are two academicians, including Prof TS Benipal of Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU), Amritsar.
In the government circles, the rationale of appointing a retired army officer of the rank of lieutenant general as Punjab Public Service Commission chairman is being debated, since an officer of this rank retires usually at 60, which leaves him with a very short stint, as was the case with lieutenant general Buttar (retd), forcing the government to hunt for the successor.