Dalbir Singh Mahal vs State Of Punjab on 22 February, 2024

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Punjab-Haryana High Court

Dalbir Singh Mahal vs State Of Punjab on 22 February, 2024

Author: Anoop Chitkara

Bench: Anoop Chitkara

                                                              Neutral Citation No:=2024:PHHC:025093




CRM-M-116-2024

                   IN THE HIGH COURT OF PUNJAB AND HARYANA
                              AT CHANDIGARH

                                                       CRM-M-116-2024
                                                       Reserved on: 16.02.2024
                                                       Pronounced on: 22.02.2024

Dalbir Singh Mahal                                                            ...Pe  oner
                                         Versus
State of Punjab                                                               ...Respondent


CORAM:           HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE ANOOP CHITKARA

Present:         Mr. R.S. Rai, Senior Advocate with
                 Mr. Saurabh Sharma, Advocate for the pe  oner.

                 Mr. A.D.S. Sukhija, Addl. A.G., Punjab.

                                         ****
ANOOP CHITKARA, J.
 FIR No.       Dated         Police Sta.on          Sec.ons
 45            18.12.2023    Vigilance     Bureau, 13(1) (A) read with Sec on 13(2) of
                             Pa ala, Punjab         PC Act, 1988 as (Amendment) Act
                                                    2018 and 409, 120-B IPC


1. The pe oner, who was a member of Punjab Public Service Commission from
2008 to 2014, apprehending arrest in the FIR cap oned above has come up before this
Court seeking an cipatory bail.

2. The facts of the case are being taken from paragraph Nos.3 to 24 of the reply
dated 29.01.2024 filed by the concerned Deputy Superintendent of Police, which reads
as follows:

3.That it is respec ully submi ed that a Special Inves ga on Team
(herea er referred as SIT) consis ng of Sh. M. S. Bali, the re red Joint
Commissioner of CBI and Sh. Suresh Arora, the then Director General of
Police, Vigilance (Punjab) was cons tuted by vide order dated
22.11.2013 and 18.12.2013 passed by Hon’ble Punjab and Haryana High
Court, Chandigarh in CWP No.6902 of 2010 tled as “K.P.S Gill
versus Punjab Public Commission through its Secretary and Others” to
conduct Preliminary enquiry into allega ons of corrup on and favori sm
in the ma er of recruitment of 312 Medical Officer (General) during the
years 2008-2009 by the Punjab Public Service Commission, Pa ala
(herea er referred as PPSC) and in pursuant said orders, SIT has
conducted preliminary enquiry in the ma er and submi ed a detail

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report before the Hon’ble Punjab and Haryana Court on dated
21.05.2014. True Typed copy of said report is enclosed herewith as
Annexure R-1/T.

4. That it is respec ully submi ed that as per preliminary enquiry report
submi ed by SIT, the Department of Health & Family Welfare, Punjab in
order to reviving and filling up 286 vacant posts of Medical Officers
(General) has requested the PPSC vide Memo No. 1/13/97-6C1/2739
dated 25/09/2008 to ini ate the process of selec on of 100 Medical
Officers (General) at the earliest and in pursuant to said proposal, PPSC
has invited applica ons from the eligible candidates for recruitment of
100 Medical Officers (General) by fixing last date for submission of
applica on as 07/11/2008 through adver sement no.3 dated
07/10/2008. It was men oned in the instruc ons for filling up the
applica on form under the head “IMPORTANT NOTE” that where the
number of applica ons received in response to the adver sement is
large and if it will not be convenient or possible for the Commission to
interview all the candidates, then the Commission may restrict the
number of candidates for interview to a reasonable limit on the basis of
short-lis ng them by order of their academic merit as per their
qualifica on/higher marks or by holding a Screening Test.

5. That it is respec ully submi ed that PPSC in its mee ng held on
26/02/2004 has adopted new Rules of Procedure-2004 and Rules of
Procedure exis ng prior to 26/02/2004 were repealed. It is respec ully
submi ed that salient features of the new Rules of Procedure adopted in
2004 vis-à-vis the PCMS selec ons are as follows:

A. That as per para 3 of Appendix ‘A’ of the Rules of
Procedure-2004, ini al screening followed by a viva-
voce was required to be conducted by the PPSC for the
recruitment of PCMS officers. Para 2 of Annexure A of
the said Rules further says that even in case of interview
based selec ons, Screening Test/Short-lis ng will be
done in case of larger number of candidates. For the
purpose of short-lis ng, for one post, 6 candidates and
then 3 candidates for every addi onal post will be called
for the interview.

B. Para 18 of Appendix ‘A’ of the said Rules of Procedure-

2004 mandates that a Resource Person (Subject
Specialist) will be invited for the interview for one day

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only.

C. As per para 20 of the said Appendix ‘A’, in case a
panelist adjudges a candidate below/above the bracket
(25-75%), then he will bring forth this proposi on before
the Panel for discussion and will record the reasons in
wri ng for the same.

D. Annexure B of the said Rules of Procedure-2004
prescribes the criteria/break up of interview marks
which is summarized as under:

I. Academic Qualifica on (basic) 40

II. Higher Qualifica on 02

III. Job Experience 05

IV. NCC/Sports 10

V. Publica ons 03

VI. Viva-Voce 40

(30 marks for the interview board and
10 marks for the Subject Specialist)
Thus, the new Rules of Procedure-2004 gave equal
weightage to the basic academic qualifica on and viva voce. It
also gave due credit of 5% marks for the job experience.

6. That it is respec ully submi ed that while the process of recruitment
of 100 Medical Officers (General) had already been ini ated, the
interview criteria was changed by cons tu ng a Sub-Commi ee
consis ng of Dr. Ajaib Singh, Dr. Satwant Singh Mohi and Mrs. Ravinder
Kaur (all members of PPSC) by Sh. S.K. Sinha, the then Chairman, PPSC,
which was cons tuted on 06/11/2008 and it submi ed its report on the
same day without men oning any jus fica on/reasons or grounds for
affec ng the change in the interview criteria in the Rules of Procedure-
2004. The Sub-commi ee basically decreased the marks of basic
academic qualifica on, increased the marks for Viva-Voce by 20%,
decreased the weightage of the marks allo ed to the expert, eliminated
the marks for experience and introduced a new feature of ‘Social Work in
Medical Field’.

7. That it is respec ully submi ed that Sh. S.K. Sinha, the then Chairman,
PPSC, put up a note dated 03/02/2009 for discussion in the mee ng of
the Commission to be held on 04/02/2009 regarding the fixa on of the

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interview criteria for the recruitment of Medical Officers (General) to the
PCMS men oning that there is no jus fica on for the Commission to
consider applicants of foreign qualifica ons for the posts of MOS
(General) and for assigning any points for post graduate or extra-
curricular ac vi es to the MBBS degree holders. It would be totally and
absolutely illegal and the interview criteria contained in the Rules of
Procedure-2004 was arbitrarily changed in the mee ng of the
Commission held on 04/02/2009 and the PPSC reduced the academic
qualifica on marks from 40 to 35 and deleted the 5 marks for job
experience which is vital for any Medical Service. Further marks for
higher qualifica on were also increased from 2 to 3 and a new criteria of
5 marks for social work in Medical field was arbitrarily introduced
without recording any reasons. The Viva Voce marks were increased
from 40 to 50. All these changes was adopted so that the candidates
with meritorious academic record could be eliminated and the
candidates with poor academic career could be pushed high in the merit
list at the discre on of the interview board members. Moreover, above
new criteria was never brought to the no ce of the candidates either
through a Public No ce or through individual communicator depriving
majority of them of marks to which they may have been en tled under
the revised parameters. However, most of the candidates who had
claimed weightage for the Social Work in Medical Field had produced
cer ficates issued by Gram Pradhans or NGOs and not by any
government body of ins tu on. Most of these cer ficates were in
respect of different type of medical camps as were men oned in the
criteria recommended by the sub-commi ee of PPSC in its mee ng
dated 06/11/2008 and approved by the Chairman on 12/11/2008. This
criterion was subsequently modified on 04/2/2009 and was never made
a part of any record of the interview. However, some candidates
produced cer ficates showing similar nature of camps as proposed by
the sub- commi ee on 06/11/2008 and that could only be possible
because of the fact that it was selec vely leaked to those candidates by
the concerned Members of PPSC who were interested in their selec on
to PCMS.

8. That it is respec ully submi ed that in response to a clarifica on
sought by the PPSC from the Department of Health and Family Welfare
regarding the applicants who had obtained Medical Degree from the

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foreign universi es, the Department advised vide le er dated
20/01/2009 that the grading of various universi es cannot be compared
and it would be be er under the circumstances to conduct a wri en test,
but Sh. S.K Sinha, the then Chairman, PPSC put up a note dated
23/01/2009 for a discussion in the Commission, ostensibly projec ng
that conduct of a wri en test will be an unduly long process which will
take anything from 4-6 months at least, thus Sh. S.K Sinha, suo mo o,
men oned that keeping in view the urgent need of the state government
to fill up the vacancies, a process of conduc ng a wri en examina on
may not be advisable and he further suggested that it would be far more
expedi ous to call all the applicants for interview and grade them
according to their interview marks. This note of the Chairman was
discussed in the mee ng of the Commission dated 27/01/2009 and it
was unanimously decided under the garb of the larger administra ve
interest of the state and the so-called expedi ous demand of the
government for Medical Officers (General), to have an interview based
selec on and to call all the eligible candidates for the interview. Thus,
the wri en test/screening test/short- lis ng on the basis of basic
qualifica on marks was dispensed with in viola on of Rules of
Procedure, 2004 with an ulterior mo ve of selec ng those candidates
with poor academic record who would not have qualified for the
interview otherwise.

9. That it is respec ully submi ed that 2201 applica ons were received
for 100 posts of MO (General), out of which 427 were rejected a er
preliminary scru ny by the PPSC, thus 1774 candidates were called for
interview as against 100 posts of MOs making the post applicant ra o
more than 1 is to 17, though the standard post-applicant ra o is 1 is to 3
as prescribed in the Rules of Procedure, 2004, thus said selec on makes
a strong case for a screening test. It is further respec ully submi ed that
the candidates who had obtained medical degrees from foreign
universi es were not considered at all.

10. That it is respec ully submi ed that in pursuant to proposal, PPSC
has been invi ng applica ons from the eligible candidates for
recruitment of 212 Medical Officers (General) fixing last date for
submission of applica on as 20/03/2009 through adver sement no.5
dated 01/03/2009. In pursuance of the said adver sement, 2453
candidates applied for the posts out of which 301 applica ons were

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rejected. The interview schedule of the remaining 2152 candidates was
fixed held from 24/08/2009 to 30/09/2009 making the Post-Candidate
ra o 1 is to 10 which was again on a very high side. 1450 candidates
were interviewed for 212 posts of Medical Officers (General) by the
PPSC.

11. That it is respec ully submi ed that interviews were conducted by
three panels. Each panel was supposed to consist of two or three
members of the PPSC and one Resource Person/Subject Specialist. Panel
‘A’ was headed by Sh. S.K Sinha, Chairman, PPSC and Panel ‘B’ and ‘C
were chaired by the senior member of PPSC present in the panel. For the
interview of 212 posts of MOs (General), panel ‘A’ consisted of Sh. S.K
Sinha alone and the Subject Specialist. Rest of the panels consisted of 2
or more than 2 members for both selec ons though, many a mes,
those panels also conducted interviews as a single member board.

12. That it is respec ully submi ed that for the interview of 100 posts,
the interview board consisted of single member of PPSC on 13 occasions
even when the other members of the panel were present in the office as
per PPSC record. For the interview of 212 posts, the interview board
consisted of single member of PPSC on 29 occasions out of which 5
boards were chaired by Dr. S.S Mohi even when the other member of the
panel was present in the office. The member of PPSC chairing as single
member board enjoyed undue advantage of alloNng up to 40 marks out
of 50 for Viva-Voce, with only 10 marks being reserved for the Resource
Person, In mul member interview board, 40 marks of interview got
equally divided amongst the members of PPSC present in the board.
Thus, 755 candidates were interviewed by the single member boards out
of which 87 were selected.

13. That it is respec ully submi ed that almost 81 candidates were
called for interview per day in two sessions i.e. the Forenoon and the
A ernoon session. For each interview panel there was one Subject
Specialist, despite large number of names of Resource Persons available
with the PPSC, some of the Resource Persons were called me and again
for the interview of Medical Officers in contraven on of Rules of
Procedure- 2004 of PPSC which required that a Resource Person should
be invited for one day only. It is further respec ully submi ed that
during enquiry conducted by the SIT, it has come on record that Resource
Persons were asked by almost all the members of PPSC at one point or

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the other to take care of a par cular candidate.

14. That it is respec ully submi ed that 57 candidates against 100 posts
and 92 candidates against 212 posts recommended for appointment by
the PPSC, who had secured less than 60% marks in the MBBS
examina on. They were given very high marks in the interview ranging
between 80% to 100% except in some cases of reserve categories
without any jus fica on with a view to bring them in the safer zone
ensuring their selec on. It is further respec ully submi ed that panelists
who have awarded excep onally higher marks to the candidates with
poor academic record have not jus fied the same by giving cogent
reasons. The panelists either gave no remarks in the interview award
sheet or remarks given were very flippant like good, very good, excellent,
etc. which clearly showed that there was a mee ng of minds with
respect to the individual candidates who were to be selected. The me
taken for interview in most of the cases was anywhere from 3 to 5
minutes, though it is not possible to judge a candidate on the
parameters as described therein even within a period of 10 minutes.

15. That it is respec ully submi ed that 60 and 75 candidates
recommended for appointment by the PPSC against 100 and 212 posts
of MOs (General) respec vely had passed their MBBS professional
examina ons in more than one a empt. Out of the aforesaid 60
candidates, 19 had cleared the MBBS professional examina ons in 7 to
11 a empts and out of the said 75 candidates, 26 had cleared the MBBS
professional examina ons in 7 to 15 a empts. Many of these candidates
were given very high marks without any jus fica on in the Viva-Voce in
order to ensure their selec on.

16.That it is respec ully submi ed that 26 candidates and 99 candidates
recommended for appointment by the PPSC against 100 and 212 posts
of MOs (General), were given marks ranging between 2 to 5 for Social
Work in Medical Field for which they were not en tled. As per interview
criteria, such marks were to be given only if the candidate was the
organizer of the Social Awareness Camp and not for being a mere
par cipant or for rendering help in organizing the camp. It is respec ully
submi ed that Social Work cer ficates produced by the candidates for
obtaining weightage were never sent to the government by the PPSC for
verifica on before appointment of the concerned candidates whereas
cer ficates regarding the date of birth, educa onal qualifica on,

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registra on with Medical Council etc. were sent to the Government for
verifica on before issuing appointment.

17. That it is respec ully submi ed that during the interview, Sh. S.K.
Sinha, the then Chairman, PPSC used to behave rudely with the
candidates and many of the Subject specialists who had worked with
him as Resource Person. The erra c conduct of S.K. Sinha can be gauged
from the fact that 45 candidates in 1st lot of 100 posts and 59
candidates in 2nd lot of 212 posts who had secured MBBS marks ranging
between 60% to 72.32% were arbitrarily awarded zero percent marks
despite their very good academic record, whereas other members siNng
in the same panel had awarded marks ranging from 20% to 85% to
those candidates. Shri S.K. Sinha had awarded 0% marks to 219
candidates and 100% marks to 14 candidates interviewed by him,
whereas, as per the Resource Persons/Experts, any person who has
passed out with MBBS degree, is bound to have some professional
knowledge of the subject, therefore, no candidate can be given 0%
marks. Similarly, his knowledge cannot be so perfect to earn 100%
marks. Thus the marks awarded by Shri S.K. Sinha was arbitrary,
irra onal, subjec ve and unfair one.

18. That it is respec ully submi ed that Dr. Satwant Singh Mohi, the
then member, PPSC has irra onally without any cogent reasons or
jus fica on awarded marks ranging between 80% to 98% to 27
candidates with an ulterior mo ve to ensure their selec on to PCMS,
which are not commensurate with their academic record and he was
also in telephonic contact with those candidates or their
parents/rela ves to whom he had awarded excep onally high marks.
Many of such contacts were even on the date of interview. Some
contacts were made by Dr. S.S. Mohi even while the final result of 1st lot
of 100 MOs (General) was being compiled by the PPSC late in the night
on 12/6/2009 under his supervision. Dr. S.S Mohi was also in telephonic
contact with some other candidates who were interviewed by other
members and were given high marks by them.

19. That it is respec ully submi ed that pe oner Shri D.S. Mahal and
other members of PPSC namely Anil Sarin and Brig. (Retd.) D.S. Grewal
has irra onally without any cogent reasons or jus fica on awarded high
marks to 24 candidates with an ulterior mo ve to ensure their selec on
to PCMS. Many of these candidates had poor academic record. The said

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members were also in telephonic contact with most of those candidates
or their parents/rela ves to whom the members of PPSC have awarded
very high marks not commensurate with their academic record. True
typed copy of list of such candidates along with names of PPSC
members, marks awarded to them and Contact informa on is enclosed
as Annexure R-2/T for kind considera on of this Hon’ble Court.

20. That that some of the candidates belonging to influen al
background were awarded high marks by the members of PPSC though
some of them had an average academic record. Some of them were also
in contact with Dr. S.S Mohi, member, PPSC. It is further respec ully
submi ed that Ms. Ravinder Kaur has given 98 marks in interview to
student namely Akhil Sarin having Roll No.5031, who is the close rela ve
of co-accused Anil Sarin and said Akhil Sarin con nuously in touch
through telephonic calls with pe oner Anil Sarin. True typed copy of list
of such candidates showing marks awarded by the members is enclosed
as Annexure R-3/T for kind considera on of this Hon’ble Court.

21. That it is respec ully submi ed that vehicle log book records of Mrs.
Ravinder Kaur, the then Member PPSC, show that on par cular dates she
was at Chandigarh, but in PPSC interview records she has been shown as
present and has prepared and signed the interview award sheets of
certain candidates. The interview award sheets are simple blank forms
without any serial numbers embossed on them.

22. That it is respec ully submi ed that blatant viola ons of Rules
contained in para 17 to 20 of Appendix-A of Rules of Procedure-2004
commi ed during the course of interviews were subsequently
regularized with retrospec ve effect from 2006 by the PPSC on the
ini a ve of Shri S.K. Sinha, the then Chairman on 21.09.2010.

23. That it is respec ully submi ed that it has been found that there are
large number of cash deposits in the bank accounts of Dr. S.S. Mohi, the
then Member of PPSC and his family members besides huge investment
in various movable and immovable proper es during the relevant period
when he was holding office as member of PPSC and he could not
sa sfactorily explain the pecuniary resources and property acquired
during said period.

24. That it is respec ully submi ed that on the recommenda on made
in preliminary Enquiry made by the SIT, present FIR no. 45 dated

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18.12.2023, under sec ons sec on 13(1)(A) sec on 13(2) of Preven on
of Corrup on Act, 1988 read with sec on 409, 120-B of IPC, registered at
Police Sta on: Vigilance Bureau, District Pa ala against the pe oner
and other co-accused.

3. I have heard counsel for the par es and gone through the record and an
analysis would lead to the following outcome.

4. Counsel for the pe oner submits that pe oner has already joined
inves ga on. He further submits that allega ons are qua grant of high marks to
some candidates in order to favour them are wrong and selec on process has
already passed the scru ny of this Court and this Court in CWP No.11466-2013
tled as Dr. Arun Kumar and others Versus State of Punjab and others regularized
the services of the alleged tainted doctor whose selec on was under scanner and
now State is trying to prosecute them.

5. Counsel for the pe oner submits that the inves ga on is a vesicant and the
prosecu on has been launched without any evidence. It has further been argued that in
the absence of direct evidence of quid-pro-quo makes its outcome uncertain. Although,
this Court does not agree with this argument for the reason that the prosecu on has
collected sufficient prima-facie evidence poin ng out towards irregulari es, viola ons of
norms and other procedural lapses. However, this Court is considering pe on for bail
and not pe on for quashing. The considera on for bail is different than considera ons
of quashing or passing of the final judgment in trial. Thus, for the purpose of bail, it is
not a case where custodial interroga on is required to find out further evidence or it can
be made a tool to the collect money which was allegedly amassed by the pe oner. It is
always open for the inves gator to take steps to recover proceeds of crime. However, on
this ground alone, it is not a case to reject bail to pe oner, who is an accused for
irregulari es in the selec on process which had taken place in the year, 2009. In addi on
to that, the li ga on is pending from the year 2010 qua that selec on.

6. Given above, the present pe on is allowed and interim order dated 09.01.2024 is
made absolute. All pending miscellaneous applica ons, if any, stand disposed of.



                                                         (ANOOP CHITKARA)
                                                             JUDGE
22.02.2024
Jyo -II
        Whether speaking/reasoned:               Yes
        Whether reportable:                      No.




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