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HC: Top Punjab

officer’s post void

Chandigarh, January 18-In a major embarrassment for the Punjab Government, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today set aside the appointment of retired IAS officer Suresh Kumar as the Chief Principal Secretary to Chief Minister (CPSCM) after ruling that he was holding a “public office” without authority of law.
Holding the appointment to be “void”, Justice Rajan Gupta ruled that it was in clear violation of the constitutional scheme, particularly the procedure and rules of business envisaged by Article 166(3) of the Constitution.
Referring to his appointment record, Justice Gupta held that overriding powers had been vested in CPSCM’s post. Even consultation with the ministers and administrative secretaries was not necessary in view of powers bestowed by virtue of a standing order.
Justice Gupta observed that it was not difficult to envision a situation where the state was plunged into crisis following a decision by “such an appointee” because he could not be expected to have the same vision for the state’s development as the Chief Minister.
Any intentional or unintentional lapse on his part could not be questioned by any disciplinary authority. He was also not bound by the oath of secrecy, having superannuated from regular service.
It was also not clear why in the CM’s absence, the next senior-most minister or the minister in-charge would not assume command and authorised to take important decisions. There could be no justification for vesting such extraordinary power in the CPSCM apparently in violation of Article 166(3).
Justice Gupta noted that a post in the cadre strength of IAS in the state was kept vacant to facilitate his appointment. The speed and alacrity with which the file moved thereafter showed that his appointment was to play an important role in decision-making.
Justice Gupta also refused to accept the state’s argument that he was not holding a public office and the government was not accountable to courts while appointing a person unless the post was a “public office”.
Justice Gupta held that Kumar had been given wide discretion to take decisions. “To hold that office held by him is not a ‘public office’, would not only be absurd but against the record.”

Forex case: ED quizzes

Rana’s son for 6 hours

Jalandhar, January 18- In a case of suspected FEMA violations, Rana Inder Partap Singh, son of senior Congress leader Rana Gurjit Singh, today appeared before the Enforcement Directorate. He was accompanied by his accountants and lawyers.
Rana Inder Partap arrived in his Land Cruiser and entered the ED office at 12.35 pm. Inquiry Officer-cum-Deputy Director Rahul Sohu and Assistant IO-cum-Enforcement Officer Priyanka Sharma interrogated him for more than six hours.
He came out of the office at 7:05 pm. Talking to the media, he said: “We have given written replies to all queries put up before us. We had raised funds abroad through automatic route and no permission was required then. We were to furnish information to the RBI later, a copy of which was not with the ED. Since they asked us to furnish it, we have done that today.”
“We have provided them everything in black and white, including our balance sheets. The Income-Tax Department had already done the assessment on the same issue 12 years ago. We had then given clarifications on all matters put before us,” he said.

SGPC ex-chief secy

Calcutta dead

Amritsar- Former SGPC chief secretary Manjit Singh Calcutta (79), who was considered an authority on Panthic matters, died here this morning after a brief illness.
He is survived by wife Santokh Kaur, son Gurpreet Singh and daughters Sarbpreet Kaur and Harkirat Kaur.
The former SAD leader was a staunch critics of the Badals. He repeatedly accused them of interfering in SGPC affairs and failing to confront the BJP and the RSS.
Elected MLA from Amritsar South constituency in 1997, Calcutta was appointed Minister for Higher Education by then Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. A loyalist of Gurcharan Singh Tohra, who headed the SGPC for a record 27 years, Calcutta was among the five ministers who resigned in protest against Tohra’s expulsion from the SAD in 1999. The others were Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal, Harmail Singh Tohra, Inderjit Singh Zira and Surjit Singh Koli. They all had formed a party, Sarv Hind Shiromani Akal Dal. In 2012, Calcutta had extended support to the Congress when Capt Amarinder Singh was the PPCC chief.

 

Cong not behind ’84 riots: Rana

Jalandhar, January 13-Even as the Supreme Court has set up a new SIT for investigating 186 cases of the 1984 riots, Cabinet Minister Rana Gurjit Singh said the Congress was not responsible for the riots. “If our party was in power at that time in Delhi, we cannot treat it as being responsible for the riots,” he said.
Though the Congress had earlier been demanding fixing of accountability for the missing foodgrain stock of Rs 30,000 crore, Punjab minister Rana Gurjit Singh said his government had already started treating it as a loan.
Rana, who was here for a music album release function, said, “We have had to repay instalments of Rs 3,200 crore for this debt. The previous government left us this as a debt liability.”
Asked if his government would now enquire as to who all were the beneficiaries of the pilferage as was promised ahead of the polls, he replied, “I cannot comment on that as the department is with the CM. But wherever there will be a scam, we will surely rake it up”.

Drug-tainted’ SSP named

for state award, file under lens

Chandigarh, January 13-The state police have landed themselves in a sticky situation with their one wing recommending Moga SSP Raj Jit Singh for the state award for his devotion to duty ahead of the Republic Day, while another wing accusing him of having links with drug smugglers.
The recommendation, based on SSP’s role in solving series of targeted killings, was allegedly made in a controversial manner in the last few days when DGP Suresh Arora was out of the state for attending a national conference of the DGPs.
Usually, a committee of officials from the Home and Police Departments makes recommendations. The committee had listed six names, but a separate communication from the DGP office recommended Raj Jit Singh’s name as well. The recommendation letter, however, did not have the approval of the DGP or the committee.
It is learnt that the Home Department has returned the file to the DGP saying proper procedure was not followed. Sources said the DGP was unlikely to approve the recommendation as any official facing an inquiry could not be recommended for any award. They said a final decision was yet to be taken.
The SSP is under investigation over his alleged drug links by a committee of police officers monitored by the Punjab and Haryana High Court. His name figures in the investigation by the Special Task Force into the drug network of arrested Inspector Inderjit Singh. It was alleged that Inderjit was his favourite and was mostly posted in his district. Also, a retired DSP had given a statement before a judge linking the SSP with Inspector Inderjit.
SSP Raj Jit Singh had contested the allegations. He had moved the High Court claiming innocence and fearing false implication by the STF. He had also approached the Home Department for shifting the inquiry to the CBI or any other investigating agency outside Punjab.


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