Housing Board appoints UT IAS officer’s husband as legal retainer

In a move whose legality may be questioned, the Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) has appointed the husband of a serving official of the UT Administration as its legal retainer without inviting applications from other probable candidates.

All it seems to have taken into consideration is the "interest" shown by advocate Gagandeep Wasu, a Haryana law officer and the husband of Prerna Puri, secretary (IT). Puri, an IAS officer belonging to the UT cadre has six years experience. She had earlier been a sub-divisional magistrate and had held additional charge as the MC Commissioner for a few months. In February 2012, Puri was appointed as secretary, information technology and house allotment committee. On March 13, she was given charge as special secretary (projects), which entailed reviewing projects being implemented by the engineering department of the CHB and the MC.

On August 22, Wasu shot off an application to the CHB chairman Satya Gopal, expressing interest in being the Board's legal retainer. He sought the post less than a month after the then legal retainer resigned.

On whether it was him who applied or was asked to apply by the Board, Wasu said: "This is a confidential matter between the Board (client) and the candidate. I have a vast experience in the profession and possibly the Board could not find anybody better than me." Queried on whether the selection method was fair as no other lawyers were considered, Wasu added: " It is the Board's prerogative."

Board chairman Satya Gopal did not respond to repeated calls and messages and its CEO, Rodney L Ralte,refused to comment saying "I do not want to make any statement."

However, CHB secretary Mandeep Kaur said: "Board's senior law officer had resigned and we were in dire need of a legal retainer as we have more than 530 matters pending in different courts. The decision to appoint Wasu was taken at the Board's meeting. We have appointed him only till March."

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