Hold KAS Mains afresh, HC to PSC

The single bench had however pulled up the PSC for removing Rule 12 (B). The question before the court was whether PSC could reframe the list in absence of a specific statute for the same.

D A RASHID
Srinagar, Publish Date: Mar 14 2018 12:16AM | Updated Date: Mar 14 2018 12:16AM
Hold KAS Mains afresh, HC to PSCRepresentational Pic

The High Court on Tuesday directed J&K Public Service Commission (PSC) to conduct KAS Mains exam-2016 afresh. Apart from the candidates who were shortlisted after the PSC revisited the prelims results, 429 aspirants who had been dropped following the re-evaluation and another 2365 candidates who had secured higher merit compared to these 429 candidates are now eligible for the test.  

A division bench of Justice Janak Raj Kotwal and Justice Sanjeey Kumar issued the directions while disposing of an appeal by the PSC against its single bench order which had directed the PSC to allow the 429 candidates debarred from taking the main exam.  

The bench, however, expected that the PSC would take immediate steps to hold the main examination as the same has been delayed due to litigation. The present controversy cropped up after PSC reframed the preliminary examination merit by revising the answer Key after it had got expert opinion on 23 questions following the objections from the candidates that the answer Key was wrong.   

The PSC had done away with Rule 12 (B) from the text of the provisions of the J&K Public Service Commission (Conduct of Examination) Rules, 2005. Under the said rule the PSC was bound to disclose answer Key to the candidates.   

“Deletion of provision like 12-B which existed in the Rules of 2005 was totally unreasonable, uncalled for and unproductive,” the division bench said. Though the provision, the Court said, has been deleted from the statute, yet, it added, there is no clog put on the power of Commission to adopt the procedure as was envisaged under 12-B of the Rules of 2005 to make answer Key public so that the corrective measures to rectify the errors and discrepancies are taken well in time before evaluation of the answer scripts”. 

The single bench had however pulled up the PSC for removing Rule 12 (B). The question before the court was whether PSC could reframe the list in absence of a specific statute for the same. 

“We therefore hold that the absence of the Rule 12-B in the statute, that is, the Rules of 2005 does not, in any manner, effect the power of the Commission to publish the answer Keys immediately after the declaration of the result of the preliminary examination and invite objections thereto within a fixed period,” the division bench said.  This, the court said, would avoid the controversy like the one that has arisen in the instant case. 

The court said the Commission would be well within its right to examine the representations and if these are found to be of some merit, to take immediate remedial measures for rectification of the model answer Keys.

“Such Power is inherent in the PSC by virtue of its creation by the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir and entrustment on it of the constitutional duty to conduct the competitive exams for appointment to the services of the state”.   

The Court underscored that the power conferred upon the Commission under section 133(1) of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir is wide enough to encompass the power to ensure fairness and impartiality in the selection process and to maintain utmost transparency and purity in the exams. 

“The publication of answer Keys for inviting objections from the aggrieved candidates is a facet of transparency which is required to be ensured by the Commission at all costs,” it said.   

This, the court said, would also instill faith in the Institution and would avoid uncalled for litigation, which more than often, delays the selection.   

In view of the observations made, the court left it to the PSC to consider restoration of Rule 12-B on the statute Book or provide similar procedure even without making any specific provision in the Rules. “This would, otherwise, be in consonance with the duty assigned to the Commission by virtue of section 133 of the constitution of Jammu and Kashmir”. 

With regard to the increase in number of candidates more than 25 times to the total number of vacancies to be filled up for short listing for main examination, the court said the rule is inflexible rule as the expression “as far as practicable” itself gives reasonable latitude to the Commission to exceed the number provided in the Rule.   

The PSC vide Notification No. PSC/EXM/2016/52 dated 18-06-2016 advertised 277 posts in Junior Scale of J&K Administrative Service, J&K Police (Gazetted) Service and J&K Accounts (Gazetted) Service and applications were invited for admission to the KAS (Preliminary) Examination.

Following the preliminary examination, the PSC vide the Notification No. PSC/Exam/2017/22 dated 23.04.2017 declared 6925 out of 47000 candidates to have qualified for KAS Mains Examination. The cut-off mark was declared as 270.477 out of aggregate of 450 marks.

However, after considering representations of candidates on wrong answer Key, the Commission issued a revised list with cut off merit 277.275 as a result of which 429 candidates who were figuring in un-revised list were excluded.   

Aggrieved of the order, the candidates approached High Court in two separate petitions through their counsels Arif Sikandar Mir and shafaqat Nazir. The court disposed of the petitions directing the commission to treat the petitions as representations and pass speaking orders after the commission msde such statement before the court.  

 The Commission however issued a fresh notification bearing No. PSC/Exam/2017/49 dated 25.08.2017 asking the candidates who had been selected vide revised list to fill up the forms for KAS (Mains) Exam and also deemed the 429 candidates dropped in the revised selected list as ineligible for KAS (Mains) exam.

 Aggrieved candidates approached court again and submitted that non-inclusion of petitioners was based on re-evaluation which was challenged on the ground of being against the rules.

 

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