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Recruitment scam exposed in HC, disposed of by govt

The Department of Local Government has reportedly shown an unusual haste in disposing of a case pertaining to a recruitment scam that surfaced in the Kharar Municipal Council (MC) earlier this year. The department’s decision to close the case file by withdrawing a thorough probe ordered earlier to fix the responsibilities of those involved in the nexus has raised many eyebrows.

Several appointments were allegedly made at the Kharar MC, throwing norms and conditions to the winds. Certain officials had allegedly appointed their near and dear ones on different posts in an “illegal” and “wrong” manner.

The scam came to light when one such appointee approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court. In her petition, Jiwan Lata, a resident of Kharar, sought the release of her salary, pension and other retirement benefits after 16 years of service, for which she claimed to have been paid only Rs 106.45.

When the court sought a reply from former Kharar MC executive officer (EO) S K Gulati, he submitted that Lata had actually worked for four days only, after which she had taken voluntary retirement. He brought to the court’s notice how Lata and others were recruited by his predecessors in an “irregular” and “illegal” manner.

Gulati said all such appointments had been cancelled soon after the alleged irregularities came to the notice of senior officials. The appointees were duly paid their dues, he told the court. Gulati said Lata had concealed this fact from the HC that she was the wife of Tarsem Lal Sharma, who was working as an accountant in the MC at the time of her appointment. Among other “illegal” appointees were Deepak Kumar, a close relative of the then EO Pawan Kumar Gupta, and Jagdish Lal, nephew of the then section officer Hans Raj.

Submitting that Lata’s petition was based on completely “false” and “fabricated” facts, Gulati said Lata’s husband had also appointed another relative and his namesake, Tarsem Lal.

While Lata, Deepak and Jagdish were appointed as clerks, Tarsem Lal was given the job of a peon/chowkidar. Gulati told the court that neither these appointments were made through the employment exchange, nor were the posts advertised in newspapers.

Not only did Lata seek benefits of her “long” service that actually never existed, she also pleaded for a job to her son on compassionate grounds, claiming she had sought voluntary retirement prior to attaining the superannuation age on medical grounds.

Gulati said Lata had also claimed all these “undue” benefits on the basis of her “backward-class” status, by mentioning the name of her father, though she had married a Brahmin much before her appointment. At the time of her appointment in 1991, Gulati said, Lata was 42 years old, which made her ineligible for the job anyway. “Moreover, she was appointed on an ad hoc basis,” he pointed out.

Gulati produced records to substantiate his claim that Lata worked for three to four days only, for which she was paid Rs 106.45.

“Even an entry was made to this effect in the MC cash book by Lata’s husband who was the MC accountant then. She never worked with the MC thereafter, and hence there is no question of paying any salary to her,” said the former EO. Gulati said Lata’s appointment letter was “totally illegal and void” as it was issued “for and on behalf of” the then MC Administrator, and not the EO who was the competent authority.

After the startling disclosures, the Director-cum-Special Secretary, Local Government, issued an order on February 6 to hold a thorough inquiry to fix responsibilities so that Lata or anyone else could not derive any undue benefit.

Finding herself cornered and fearing an “adverse” action, Lata withdrew her petition from the High Court. In his fresh orders issued recently, the Director-cum-Special Secretary, Local Government, however, directed to close the case file, paving way for Lata and all others involved in the nexus to go scot-free.



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