The Parkash Singh Badal government appears set to appoint a Lieutenant General-rank army officer as the chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC), it is learnt.
This coveted and constitutional post is lying vacant after Lt Gen TS Gill (retd), who was appointed as the PPSC chairman in 2015, demitted office in September after a yearlong stint.
The PPSC comprises a chairman and 10 members, who serve for a fixed term of six years or until they are 62.
Sources say Lt Gen NPS Hira, deputy chief of the army staff, and Lt Gen KJ Singh, who retired in July and held last posting as the general officer commanding-in-chief of the Western Command, are front runners among five decorated three-star generals who are vying for the PPSC chairman post.
Lt Gen Gurdip Singh, Lt Gen Gurmukh Singh, Lt Gen Iqbal Singh Sinha and Air Marshal KS Gill are other top-ranking army and air force officers who have applied for the chairman post.
Two posts of the members — official and non-official — are also vacant and the process is underway to park some influential people.
Three Indian Police Service (IPS) officers, including the 1981 batch Dr Ganesh Dutt Pandey -- DGP-cum-commandant general, Punjab Home Guards -- who will superannuate in August 2017, are also testing their luck.
Lok Nath Angra, currently holding the post of Amritsar commissioner of police and Paramjit Singh Grewal, IPS, are also angling for the post of PPSC member.
It is learnt that Punjab Civil Service (PCS) and Indian Administrative Services (IAS) officers, such as Gurdip Singh, PCS (retd); Gopal Krishan Singh, IAS; and Sukhjit Singh Bains, IAS, are also in the race.
- Lt Gen NPS Hira, deputy chief of the army staff, and Lt Gen KJ Singh, who retired in July and held last posting as the general officer commanding-in-chief of the Western Command.
The final decision about the next PPSC chairman is likely to be taken on December 5 by the high-powered committee comprising chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, Vidhan Sabha speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal and the leader of opposition.
As the leader of opposition and Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Charanjit Singh Channi along with other Congress MLAs had resigned from the Vidhan Sabha following the Supreme Court verdict on the emotive Sutlej-Yamuna Canal (SYL) issue, there is uncertainty if Channi will attend the December 5 meeting even as the speaker is yet to accept resignations of the Congress legislators.
Sources say in the past two weeks, the high-powered committee meeting was postponed twice after CLP leader Channi in writing informed the government that he was unable to attend the scheduled meetings due to his busy schedule and wanted the government to postpone the meeting.
The government’s another move to appoint the chairman and member of the human rights commission has also hit a road block with the CLP leader not attending the meeting.
The government is exploring administrative and legal options to decide the next PPSC chairman in case Channi doesn’t attend the meeting for third consecutive time.
The Badal government began the practice of inviting applications for the post of PPSC chairman and members from “eminent persons of impeccable integrity and administrative experience from all walks of life” after the Punjab and Haryana high court in 2011 had set the guidelines, while setting aside Akali leader Harish Rai Dhanda’s appointment as the PPSC chairman.