Chandigarh, Sep 17 (PTI) The Punjab Cabinet on Friday gave the go-ahead for the appointment of Gursher Singh, who is the son-in-law of state minister Gurpreet Kangar, as excise and taxation inspector on compassionate grounds.
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) termed the decision, which was taken at a virtual cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, "patently illegal" and said it will exercise all available options to ensure that it is "struck down".
The cabinet cleared Gursher Singh's appointment on compassionate grounds, "in a one-time relaxation without the case being treated as a precedent".
The chief minister noted that as a whistle-blower in the Punjab Public Service Commission cash-for-job scam, Gursher Singh's father Bhupjit Singh had played a major role in cleaning up the commission, according to a statement.
Bhupjit Singh, who was posted as excise and taxation officer in the Excise and Taxation Department, died on September 28, 2011. At that time, Gursher Singh had just completed his graduation, the statement said.
"As per the office records, Jasbir Kaur, wife of late Bhupjit Singh, vide her application dated June 26, 2020, had requested for employment in favour of her son Gursher Singh," it stated.
According to government policy dated November 21, 2002, and amendment vide letter dated December 28, 2005, the heirs of the deceased employee/officer have to apply for employment within one year from the date of death, the statement said.
"The policy also clarifies that if there is a genuine cause for delay, the application of the candidate can be considered up to a delay of 5 years after obtaining special approval from the Personnel Department, citing reasons of the delay in detail," it said.
"Also, notably, Gursher Singh's qualification is Bachelor of Commerce, which is beneficial for the post of Excise and Tax Inspector. In view of the qualification of candidate and the contribution made by Bhupjit Singh, Excise and Taxation Officer, during his tenure, the applicant has been considered for the post of Excise and Taxation Inspector, and the Cabinet has decided to make an exceptional on special grounds," it added.
Senior SAD leader Bikram Singh Majithia accused the Congress-led state government of "bending rules" to accommodate the kin of its leaders.
He said the cabinet decision shows that the Congress government's 'Ghar Ghar Rozgar' scheme is restricted to the family members of state ministers and party legislators and leaders.
In a statement, Majithia said Gursher Singh's appointment is "patently illegal" and a cruel joke on lakhs of youths of Punjab who trusted the chief minister and his promise to provide one job to each household in the state.
"Now the government has cleared the appointment of the revenue minister's son-in-law despite the fact that he is ineligible for the same. The candidate has property worth crores of rupees, which makes him ineligible for appointment on compassionate grounds.
"Moreover, the request for appointment had been made by the family after the passage of the five-year extraordinary time bar in such cases," the Akali leader said.
Majithia said the SAD will exercise all options open "to it to ensure that the illegal appointment was struck down".
Ahead of the cabinet meeting, Revenue Minister Gurpreet Singh told reporters, "Gursher was very young when his father passed away... even if I had not been Gursher's father-in-law, he deserved to get the job and just being a relative of a minister won't be a disqualification." "It is being propagated in the media that a minister's son-in-law is being given a job... I can say one thing that I never pleaded his (Gursher's) case at any level in the government and his case followed the due process," he said.
Replying to a question, the minister said his daughter married Gursher Singh in 2016.
Earlier in June, the Punjab government drew flak after the state cabinet approved a proposal to appoint Congress MLA Fatehgang Singh Bajwa's son Arjun Partap Singh Bajwa as a Punjab Police inspector and Ludhiana MLA Rakesh Pandey's son Bhisham Pandey as a naib tehsildar in the Revenue Department on "compassionate" grounds.
Fatehgang Bajwa later said that he had declined the government's job offer for his son.