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April 2, 2023 7:16 am

Haryana public service commision members getting pay with provision of annual increment not appropriate: HC advocate

Chandigarh, January 20

As on date, the Haryana Public Service Commission (HPSC) comprises Chairperson Alok Verma, who is a voluntarily retired IFS (Indian Forest Service) officer and four Members viz. Dr. Pawan Kumar, Anand Kumar Sharma, Jyoti Bainda and Rajinder Kumar. The fifth post of Member has been lying vacant for the last two months.

Meanwhile, an Advocate at Punjab & Haryana High Court, Hemant Kumar said that it is highly surprising as to why the fifth vacant post of Member in HPSC, which is although a Constitutional body under Article 315 of Constitution of India has not been filled up in the past couple of months.

Only a couple of days back, HPSC declared the result of the Main Exams of elite HCS (Ex. Br.) and other Allied Services Examination. Since every proceeding of HPSC which also include declaration of results of various competitive examinations or interviews as conducted by HPSC is firstly signed by Chairperson and all its Members and then put in public domain (read duly published/declared), one wonders if absence of signature of fifth Member of HPSC, who although has not been appointed since past two months, would put a question mark on the status of results of various examinations and interviews as declared by it since past two months more particularly since it has not been explicitly provided in Regulations governing HPSC that occurrence of vacancy in the Commission would not invalidate its day to day proceedings.

Be that as it may, pertinent that in June, 2021 the ruling Khattar Government in Haryana reduced strength of Members in HPSC from erstwhile 8 to 5 by making amendment in HPSC (Conditions of Service) Regulations, 2018. Interestingly, it was the same Government which increased the strength of members in HPSC from 6 to 8 in the year 2015.

Meanwhile Hemant asserts that HPSC Regulations of 2018 were framed by repealing the earlier framed similar regulations of 1972 under Article 318 of the Constitution of India. in Dec, 2018 although they came into force retrospectively with effect from 1st Jan 2016.

Immediately, this Advocate wrote to then Governor, Chief Minister, then Chief Secretary DS Dhesi (now Chief Principal Secretary to CM) objecting over provision for Increment linked Pay to HPSC Members alike Principal Secretary to State Government in HPSC Regulations of 2018

but till date no reply has been received. Pertinent that the Chairman of HPSC gets Pay equal to that of State’s Chief Secretary.

Hemant wrote that as per IAS (Pay) Rules, 2016 Chief Secretary is placed in Level 17 in Pay Matrix whereas Principal Secretary is placed in Level 15 in Pay Matrix. In Level 17, the pay is fixed at Rs 2,25,000 per month whereas in Level 15, it ranges from Rs 1,82,200 to Rs 2,24,100.

Thus, Chairman of HPSC receives a fixed Pay equal to that of Chief Secretary i.e. Rs 2,25,000 (excluding allowances) but in respect of other Members, their Pay without allowances would not be fixed and as per Regulation 7(3) of the above 2018 HPSC Regulations, the Members would even get an annual increment.

The Advocate resents that it is not constitutionally appropriate although not illegal per se to fix the Pay/Salary of Member of a Constitutional Commission (HPSC) at par with that of Principal Secretary level officer of State Government whose Salary is not fixed and such the Member would too get Pay with annual increments alike an IAS Officer of such rank.

The member of HPSC is appointed for a period of six years or till he attains the age of 62 years, whichever is earlier.

Hemant asserts that although it is prerogative of State Government to decide upon quantum of Pay/Salary admissible to Members of State PSC by prescribing the same in Regulations framed under Article 318 of Constitution but it would be wiser if their Pay (excluding allowances) is determined as fixed as is the case with members of UPSC whereas per UPSC (Members) Amendment Regulations, 2017 the Pay of Chairman is Rs 2,50,000 and of Members Rs 2,25,000, thus both being fixed. He says even in erstwhile HPSC Regulations of 1972, the Pay (remuneration) of HPSC Chairman and Members used to be fixed which was although increased from time to time by successive state governments by duly amending then prevailing HPSC Regulations.

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