Punjab removes women commission chief, says extension of her tenure was bonafide mistake


The Aam Aadmi Party government has removed State Women Commission Chairperson Manisha Gulati by withdrawing a September 2020 letter through which she had been granted an extension of three years.

The Social Security and Women and Child Development Department withdrew the letter dated September 18, 2020.

Additional Chief Secretary Kirpa Shankar Saroj said on Tuesday that issuing the letter granting her extension was a “bonafide mistake”.

In an order issued on Tuesday, Saroj said that under the Punjab State Commission for Women Act, 2001, there was no provision for extension in the term of a sitting chairperson or members of the commission beyond their three-year tenure.


She had been appointed in March 2018 as the Commission chairperson during the Congress government headed by Amarinder Singh who has now joined the BJP.

“With the bonafide mistake, a letter…dated 18-09-2020 was issued by this office through which an extension was given to you..there is no provision in Punjab State Commission for Women Act 2001 and further amendments, regarding extension to the sitting chairperson or to the members of the commission,” Saroj said in his communication to Gulati.

“In view of the above mentioned facts, the letter issued by department vide letter No.. dated 18-09-2020 is hereby withdrawn,” it says.

“As per Section 4 (1) (of the said Act), the chairperson is mandated to hold office for period of three years only. There is no provision of extension beyond three years for the sitting chairperson or the member of the Punjab State Commission for Women,” he said.

“Whenever, there is a vacancy, an advertisement has to be given in newspaper inviting applications from the deserving candidates for the post of chairperson and members. No person can be appointed on such an important post without following due procedure,” it said.

The order further stated that according to a notification issued on October 8, 2012, a three-member committee headed by the states social security, women and child development minister — and chief secretary, and the principal secretary of the department as members — has to screen candidates and prepare its recommendations.  “The recommendation is submitted to the chief minister for his approval. After the approval of the CM, the appointment letter is issued,” the order said.

There has been no recommendation from the committee members before issuing the letter dated September 18, 2020, the Tuesdays order said.

“There has been no consultations with the women organisation of Punjab State before issuing the letter dated 18-09-2020 and which is mandatory according to the Section 2(b) of the Punjab State Commission for Women Act, 2001,” as per the order.

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