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HRD Ministry in a fix over Shalu Jindal move

The move of National Bal Bhavan (NBB) Chairperson Shalu Jindal asking Human Resource Development Ministry to select a new head for the institution has put the latter in Catch-22 situation. Given the fact the appointment of incumbent NBB director MC Usha Kumari has already been challenged in the Delhi High Court, the recent move of NBB Chairman Shalu has put HRD officials in dilemma. It’s worth mentioning here that Shalu is the wife of former Congress MP and industrialist Navin Jindal.

While hearing the matter on January 19, the Delhi High Court had asked the petitioner -- Rishi Kumar Vashisht -- to file another plea. The court also hinted that appointment of Vashisht would only be possible after the selection of incumbent NBB director would prove to be illegal. Notably, petitioner Vashisht had moved the court following his name was not figured for the NBB director during the tenure of former HRD Minister MM Pallam Raju. The NBB and others including Usha Kumari are the respondents in the matter. It is pertinent to mention here that the matter has been posted for next hearing on April 22.

While hearing the matter, Justice Valmiki J Mehta had said, “Counsel for the petitioner seeks permission to file an application for amendment of the writ petition because at present there is no relief claimed in the writ petition that the petitioner should be appointed as a Director of NBB and which would be possible after and if the appointment of respondent no. 3 (MC Usha Kumari) is illegal and is terminated.”

An inquiry panel, set up by HRD ministry, is already probing the matter of irregularities in selection of Usha Kumari by the then HRD Minister Pallam Raju in December 2012. Allegedly, Raju had overruled the ministry’s selection panel suggestions in the name of Rishi Kumar Vashisht, who is presently Deputy Director at Centre for Cultural Resource and Training (CCRT). Reportedly, Kumari, whose name was at second position after Vashisht in merit list, was selected for the coveted post as she was the wife of Private Secretary to former HRD Minister late Arjun Singh.

Not even this, the incumbent NBB Director has embroiled into another controversy for rejecting an RTI seeking information about details of pensions and gratuity and other benefits of former NBB Director Amita Shaw. Kumari refused to provide information to RTI applicant about Shaw, who was chargesheeted for financial irregularities at Bal Bhavan, by saying that these are “personal information” which cannot be “shared”.
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