Haryana govt ‘suspends’ HSSC chief despite no legal provision
Bharat Bhushan Bharti has been involved in controversies earlier; set up inquiry panel, says CM
CHANDIGARH: The Haryana government ‘suspended’ Haryana Staff Selection Commission (HSSC) chairman Bharat Bhushan Bharti on Thursday — even though there is no such provision in the Act governing the commission — following a controversy that sparked after an allegedly insulting question about Brahmins was asked in a recently-held competitive written examination.
“While suspending the HSSC chairman with immediate effect and deciding to give charge to another member, the CM also ordered to set up an inquiry commission, likely to be headed by a retired high court judge, to investigate the issue,” Ram Bilas Sharma, education minister, said in a news conference.
“Besides, an FIR will also be registered against the Delhibased company that was hired to prepare the question paper, the paper-setter and the publisher of the book in which this derogatory question was written,” Sharma said.
The minister, however, kept mum despite being repeatedly asked to spell-out the provision under which the HSSC chairman could be suspended.
Till late evening, the chief secretary’s office had not issued the orders to ‘suspend’ Bharti, a senior government functionary said.
BAD TIMES FOR HSSC
After the cash for job scam hit the HSSC in April, in which its four employees were arrested, the recruitment body got into another raging controversy for asking a question in the April 10 written examination of Junior Engineers (Jes-civil), the ominous person among four categories including the dark-skinned Brahmin (kala brahmin) and the Brahmin girl.
The raging controversy has brought under spotlight the functioning of the HSSC chairman Bharti, who is perceived to be a close confidant of Haryana chief minister (CM) Manohar Lal Khattar.
Khattar too was on the backfoot on this issue after the opposition raked up the matter and ministers of the Khattar cabinet started seeking high-level probe.
On Wednesday, finance minister Capt Abhimanyu had sought a high-level probe into the issue. “This expression is not only against the society but also anti-women and racist. This does not sync with our ideology of Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas and Haryana Ek - Haryanvi Ek,” Capt Abhimanyu wrote in his May 11 communication to Bharti.
Now, Thursday’s damage controlling step apparently comes after prominent leaders led by BJP Rajya Sabha MP Lt Gen DP Vats (retd) met Khattar here. Among others were Naresh Kaushik, Mool Chand Sharma, Tek Chand Sharma and Dinesh Kuashik (MLAS).
The education minister said, “The CM has accepted that asking this derogatory question was a huge blunder…the committee to be set up after the advice of the advocate general (AG) will specifically examine the role of the HSSC.”
He said the HSSC chairman will remain ‘suspended’ until the inquiry was completed.
He said the FIR will be lodged on Thursday itself at Panchkula.
“The previous Congress government is not remotely linked with this matter…it is for the first time that such a defaming question was asked in the competitive examination,” he said, pointing out that the government didn’t accept the written apology of the company contracted for setting the paper.
The government has blacklisted the company and publisher from all future assignments.
During the Budget session also, the HSSC chairman was under fire from the opposition INLD and the Congress after a CD pertaining to a graft case surfaced. INLD demanded removal of Bharti. Both the INLD and Congress legislators had disrupted the assembly proceedings over charges of alleged bribe for a municipal council (MC) chairperson’s post.
At the centre of the Inldspearheaded attack on the government, was a secretly recorded audio allegedly involving two middle-rung state BJP leaders talking about how ₹75 lakh was allegedly paid to become a municipal committee (MC) chairperson last, forcing the CM to set up a vigilance probe.
An FIR will also be registered against the Delhibased company that prepared the question paper, the papersetter and publisher of the book in which this derogatory question was there. RAM BILAS SHARMA, Haryana education minister