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Haryana agri dept opposes Dhankar’s move to appoint ‘ineligible’ official as director

Standoff: Minister pushing the case of Rajbir Singh Chahal, joint director (agriculture engg), for giving him addl charge of director, Haryana State Seed Certification Agency, but dept says he lacks ‘requisite experience, qualification’

india Updated: Apr 07, 2018 11:41 IST
Pawan Sharma
Pawan Sharma
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Haryana agri dept,Om Prakash Dhankar,Haryana State Seed Certification Agency
Om Prakash Dhankar (left) and Dr Abhilaksh Likhi. (HT Photo)

Haryana agriculture minister Om Prakash Dhankar is locked in an awkward standoff with the officials of his ministry over posting an “ineligible” officer “till further orders” as Haryana State Seed Certification Agency (HSSCA) director, according to official records HT has accessed.

The minister has been pushing the case of Rajbir Singh Chahal, joint director (agriculture engineering), for giving additional charge of HSSCA director since March 7, after getting the nod of chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar.

Khattar had given approval on Dhankar’s March 7 single-sentence note written in English within hours after receiving it.

RIFT OVER POSTING
  • March 7: Agriculture minister OP Dhankar requests CM to give additional charge of HSSCA director to Rajbir Singh Chahal, joint director (agriculture engineering). CM gives the nod same day.
  • March 8: Special secretary (agriculture) directs to examine the matter.
  • March 19: Agriculture department holds the proposal illegal, saying Chahal does not fulfil criteria.
  • March 20: Fresh opinion is sought.
  • March 22: Again, department reiterates its earlier stand; requests for fresh orders of CM.
  • March 23: Principal secretary (agriculture) Dr Abhilaksh Likhi writes that CM and agri minister may take a decision afresh.
  • March 24: Dhankar directs to issue Chahal’s posting orders “till further orders.”
  • April 3: The department examines minister’s order and sends the file back to principal secretary (agriculture).
  • April 6: Logjam continues...

“CM has approved,” Rajesh Khullar, principal secretary (CM), wrote on Dhankar’s note sheet, setting into motion what is now creating a simmering tension – and face-off also – between the minister and the department, as the both sides are digging their heels.

Based on minister’s recommendation on March 8, the special secretary (agriculture) directed the department to “examine and put up” this case “as per rules and regulations”.

Citing 2007 Punjab and Haryana high court ruling that set aside Dr VS Pahil’s appointment as HSSCA director for not having “requisite experience and qualification”, besides citing other rules about academic qualification and experience, the department in a three-page noting held that Chahal “does not meet” essential academic qualification.

“Therefore, the office is of the view that Rajbir Singh Chahal...is not eligible for the additional charge of director HSSCA as he does not meet the requisite qualifications as well as experience and other requirements...Chahal is ineligible because neither he has prescribed qualification nor experience of seed production...,” the agriculture department wrote on March 19.

“...he is a junior officer in comparison to eligible additional directors of agriculture department. Therefore, there seems to be no justification for entrusting Chahal with the additional charge of director HSSCA.”

As per the file noting of this case, (HT has the copy of the entire file), the issue was re-examined by a different set of officials to break the logjam. But they also endorsed the earlier findings that Chahal does not fulfil the criteria.

“It is also submitted that Rajbir Singh Chahal does not fulfil the requisite educational qualification. Therefore, if it is agreed, the matter should be referred back to chief minister seeking orders whether to appoint Chahal or not in view of the facts of the case,” reads March 22 four-page file noting written in Hindi and marked to CM also.

As per the official documents, the principal secretary (agriculture) Dr Abhilaksh Likhi also agreed with the findings of the department. “In view of...AM/CM (agriculture minister/chief minister) may consider and take a decision afresh. Shri DK Behra, IAS, may continue to hold additional charge as director HSSCA without any extra remuneration,” Dr Likhi wrote on March 23 and marked the file to the agriculture minister and the chief minister.

The next day Dhankar dispatched another note, refusing to accept what principal secretary (agriculture) and other officials of the department had proposed.

Dhankar’s March 24 note in English reads: “Since, Shri RS Chahal has sufficient administrative experience in the agriculture department, therefore, there could be no bar of assigning such an additional charge. Therefore, necessary orders for assigning of the additional charge, till further orders, be issued, as approved by worthy CM (sic).”

The minister reiterated that giving Chahal additional charge of director HSSCA was “approved by the CM.” The minister further wrote: “This is stop gap arrangement, for running the working of the Agency, till further orders and orders should have been issued, accordingly. So far as the contents of the notings contained in previous pages are concerned, that is for filling up the post of the Director, which is not a case relating to that at all (sic).”

In response to minister’s order to issue posting orders of Chahal, yet another functionary of the department on April 3 wrote two-page note recalling the case history and sent the file to principal secretary (agriculture).

Till Friday, the deadlock continued between the minister and the agriculture department, a top government functionary said.

First Published: Apr 07, 2018 11:41 IST