The Punjab government on Friday told the Punjab and Haryana high court its intent to drop state traffic adviser Navdeep Asija, whose series of reports have put the SAD-BJP government in the dock.
State advocate general Ashok Aggarwal told the high court bench of justice Surya Kant and justice Ajay Tewari that Asija’s appointment was not done under the rules for public appointments. Hence, state would advertise the post afresh.
During the hearing, Aggarwal said Asija thought that he was a “tribunal in himself” and would not report to anybody. “Such terms and conditions are not acceptable to me.,” Aggarwal told high court bench during the hearing of traffic-related issues of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh.
Asija, who has been assisting the high court on traffic-related issues for over four years now, was appointed traffic adviser by the state government in September 2015. The high court had made suggestion in this regard in 2014. Asija’s reports had been embarrassing the government in the court as well as in public.
The big-ticket project of the Samrala-Ladowal elevated road was stayed by high court in April this year on Asija’s report. On Friday, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) had to field senior advocate of Supreme Court Gopal Subramaniam and Aggarwal represented the state to defend the project.
It was also on Asija’s report of that high court had ordered that the SAS Nagar administration should not spend more on foot overbridges as they were not constructed in keeping in view road traffic engineering. The foot overbridges were cleared in a meeting chaired by chief minister Parkash Singh Badal. In another embarrassment to state government, Asija had alleged lapses in award of contract for bus shelters in Ludhiana.
“How do you make your appointments in advocate general office? We are aware of it. He is here for a public cause and has been doing so for years. We have not stopped anybody (from assisting court in public interest matters). Let your experts also come here,” the high court bench observed clarifying that Asija’s name was suggested by the court as he was assisting court in traffic-related issues for four-five years.
Later, the court said that the state should not make a big issue out of it and could amend terms of engagement with Asija, if desired so as it was state that had employed him.