Punjab CM Badal ‘favourite’, Ravinder Singh, remains PRTC MD after retirement | punjab | patiala | Hindustan Times
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Punjab CM Badal ‘favourite’, Ravinder Singh, remains PRTC MD after retirement

On December 31, Ravinder Singh retired from the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) as managing director of the Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC). A day later, he was picked for the post again, on a cue from chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, even as there is no precedent of a retired officer being the PRTC MD. He joined on January 4, the day the model code of conduct came into force as the state assembly poll dates were announced.

punjab Updated: Jan 06, 2017 16:28 IST
Vishal Rambani
Vishal Rambani
Hindustan Times
Ravinder Singh.
Ravinder Singh.(HT Photo)

On December 31, Ravinder Singh retired from the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) as managing director of the Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC). A day later, he was picked for the post again, on a cue from chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, even as there is no precedent of a retired officer being the PRTC MD. He joined on January 4, the day the model code of conduct came into force as the state assembly poll dates were announced.

Ravinder’s appointment a month ahead of the February 4 polls has raised eyebrows due to his past record. In the 2002 polls, as Muktsar district transport officer (DTO), he was the designated returning officer for CM Badal’s constituency, Lambi, and was suspended by the Election Commission (EC) for allegedly helping Badal.

The EC had said, “He should be suspended for gross negligence of his electoral duties and his complete disregard for prescribed procedures and instructions regarding revision of rolls. He should be chargesheeted and proceeded against”.

The personnel wing filed a departmental chargesheet against him during the Congress regime (2002-07), but that was dropped after the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) returned to power in 2007 under Badal. A year later, he was promoted to the IAS from the Punjab Civil Services (PCS).

Often accused of favouring the Badals’ flourishing bus transport business at the cost of state-run services, he has previously also served as state transport commissioner. Before retirement, he was PRTC MD for about 10 months.

He had made a bid for a place in the Punjab Public Service Commission or the information commission, it is learnt. Eventually, he approached the CM, who wrote to the transport minister and secretary that, “in view of his experience in the transport department, he can be appointed as MD PRTC”. Secretary, transport, Deepinder Singh issued the appointment orders immediately after that.

When contacted, Deepinder said the PRTC Act is silent on exactly who — from among the public, any retired officers, or otherwise — can be appointed as MD. He too cited Ravinder’s “experience in the transport department”, and said the appointment was “desired by the minister and CM”. He acknowledged that so far the post remained with either a PCS or IAS officer.

The opposition is not amused. Congress MLA Hardial Singh Kamboj said Ravinder has “benefitted” the bus services owned by the Badal family, “and that’s why he has been given the post by flouting all norms”. He claimed that transport unions also opposed his appointment as “he dented the finances of the PRTC by giving free buses for Akali programmes”.