The Narendra Modi-led central government bypassed every recruitment norm to appoint Ashim Khurana, a 1983 IAS officer from Gujarat cadre as the Chairman of Staff Selection Commission, alleged Swaraj India Vice President Aunpam on Tuesday, April 9. In a press conference in the national capital, Anupam, in a sensational revelation citing a reply under Right to Information Act, claimed that Ashim Khurana was not among the first list of 35 applicants for the post of Chairman of India's largest recruitment agency. The advertisement for the post was released by the Department of Personnel and Training on May 14, 2015 which clearly stated that “Application of only such officers will be considered as are routed through proper channel”.
Ashim Khurana hit the headlines after nationwide protests took place in 2018 against corruption, irregularities and paper leaks in SSC, and chairman Ashim Khurana was at the centre of students' anger during these protests.
The selection committee which consisted of Secretary of DoPT; Secretary of Ministry of Urban Development; Secretary of Ministry of Posts, and a person from the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes at the secretary level, after examining the applications, selected 4 candidates- Anindo Majumdar (IAS), D D Sharma (IFoS), A K Dash (IPoS) and Amitabh Khare (IRPS) in its meeting on August 17, 2015.
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After interviewing four candidates, the selection committee sent the names of D. D. Sharma and Amitabh Khare for final selection by the Cabinet Committee on Appointments consisting of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Minister of Home Affairs Rajnath Singh. But the process took an entirely a new turn when the selection committee recommended to fill the post of Chairman of Staff Selection Commission through the Civil Services Board route as an "one time measure keeping recruitment rules in abeyance".
The developments became more questionable when the committee abandoned the CSB route and decided to revise the finalised list. The minutes of the meeting of selection committee read, "The committee observed that the issue needs to be revisited in the light of the fact that the process of CSB route may take some time and such a key post cannot be left vacant for long. Therefore, the committee prepare a panel of suitable officers by expanding the catchment area for eligible officers and again go for search." Interestingly, the final list prepared by the committee only included the name of Ashim Khurana and sent it for final approval by the Cabinet Committee on Appointments.
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Anupam pointed out that the rule of upper age limit of 59 was also put aside to ensure Khurana is appointed without any hassle. He said, "Being well over 59 years old, Ashim Khurana was ineligible for the post as he did not even meet the age-specific requirements. Despite this and in violation of all rules and regulations, Mr. Khurana was appointed as the chairman of the Staff Selection Commission. The blatant violation of all laid down rules and procedures expose the surprising eagerness to appoint the Gujarat cadre officer Ashim Khurana as the head of the country’s largest recruitment institution. Prime Minister Modi is accountable to answer why were all the due procedures and protocols laid to rest to appoint Ashim Khurana as the SSC Chairman."
NewsClick tried to reach Ashim Khurana for his response on the allegations but the calls were unanswered despite repeated attempts.