In an indirect fallout of the August 12 Punjab and Haryana high court verdict, 54 officials in the rank of private secretary (PS), personal assistant (PA), and stenographer attached with Punjab’s 18 sacked chief parliamentary secretaries (CPSes) are also set to be demoted.
After the Parkash Singh Badal-led Akali-BJP government rehabilitated the legislators as CPSes, extra posts of PS and PA were created. The employees of the personal-staff cadre — in which the entry-level post is of steno-typist and the top post of senior special secretary (to minister, in the rank of joint secretary) — were promoted at different levels to serve the CPSes.
Now, the post of the CPS ceases to exist after the high court has set aside these appointments and these employees have become “surplus” in their cadre (where their offices don’t exist) and it will have to downgrade them to absorb them.
The government had posted a PS, PA, and stenographer each with every CPS, besides two clerks and three peons —a staff of eight to take care of clerical and other mundane issues. “The re-jig has become unavoidable after the high court verdict. We will have to demote 54 employees... which will lead to the more demotions in the personal staff cadre,” an officer of the general administration department (GAD) said.
The “reverse gear” will make PS-rank official PA, while the personal assistants will be redesignated as senior-scale stenographer. “This... will upset the entire cadre and there is no way to maintain status quo. The chain reaction will affect even the lowest steno typist,” an official, engaged in this exercise started on Monday, said.
WHAT THEY GET
In Punjab, the Badal government appointed 18 CPSes after it came to power in 2012, and replaced one and added six recently, taking the number to 24. It pays the CPSes Rs 40,000 a month, besides sumptuary allowance (Rs 5,000); compensatory allowance (Rs 5,000); constituency, secretarial and postal facilities allowance (Rs 25,000), and other perks that take the salary close to Rs 1.5 lakh. The real cost is the daily allowance and mileage allowance (for private vehicle used for official purpose) at Rs 15 per kilometre. Also, the government has attached an escort vehicle with every CPS, irrespective of any threat, and this security is an added expense.
As Monday was the first working day after the verdict, the government was yet to withdraw these facilities from the legislators who are now enjoying the CPS status illegally. Outside the empty offices of the CPSes in the Civil Secretariat, it was business as usual — a battery of well-paid peons sitting idle along with other members of the personal staff. The big nameplates of the booted-out CPSes still hang outside their offices. “We will take necessary steps,” said an officer of the GAD. “This is how the government functions.”