Srinagar: In a major ruling that will bring relief to aggrieved candidates, the J&K High Court has asked the J&K Service Selection Board (SSB) to delete 23 questions and re-draw the merit list of the candidates who appeared for the post of Naib Tehsildar in 2009.
Six candidates had moved the court, challenging the written test for Naib Tehsildar immediately after it was held on February 22, 2009. They had claimed that a number of wrong and vague questions were asked by the SSB.
“The (SSB) shall delete 23 questions from the question paper and thereafter assess and evaluate performance of the petitioners and selected candidates as if the question paper comprised of 97 questions only,” said a single bench of Justice Hasnain Massodi on the petition—(SWP no 487/2009) filed by the aggrieved candidates.
The court had directed evaluation of 25 questions to an expert committee of 5 HODs of Kashmir University. Out of them, 23 questions were found wrong by the Committee.
In a 21 page judgment, the court said that selection list issued on September 8, 2009 and the appointment orders issued on the basis of it to the extent of such appointees who do not find place in the re-drawn list shall stand quashed.
At the same, the court directed that the seniority of such 110 selectees or appointees who find place in the re-drawn selection list shall remain unaffected.
“The (SSB) can be asked to delete 23 questions from the Test Booklet, identified in the writ petition, declared as wrong or vague, with more than one correct answers or the correct answers not tallying with the answer Key, evaluate merit of the selected candidates and petitioners in the present petition who have questioned the written test without participating any further in the selection process.”
The court said In case it is impossible for SSB for any valid reason or reasons beyond its control to embark on such exercise, it was free to appoint petitioners against the available vacancies.
“They cannot be deprived of fruits of litigation because of failure on part of the respondents to comply with the direction,” the court observed.
The court has also delineated reason for not quashing the entire list for the impact of awarding 23 wrong marks to a candidate in the test of 120 questions.
“One of the options available was to set aside and quash the examination and direct the Board to conduct the written test afresh and prepare select list based on the merit secured by the candidates. however, the Selection process to fill up the posts was initiated 12 years back and it won’t be just and proper in these circumstances to quash the written test.”
Referring to a judgment–Rajesh Kumar and others versus state of Bihar and others, the bench said that the apex court has held the power of the writ court to mould the relief to be well recognized and available to do complete justice between the parties.
The selection list had hogged headlines after it surfaced that 29 candidates were appointees despite being ineligible for not having Urdu as one of the subjects in metric.
The argument was also raised in the petition but the court observed that the plea was destined to fail at least for the present as the state government has granted relaxation in favor of the appointees.
“Any one aggrieved that the 29 appointees granted relaxation failed to comply with conditions subject to which relaxation was granted or that conditions were treated as mere formality by the official respondents, would be free to question their appointment, bring to the notice of the court facts in support of such plea,” the court said on the contention that the 29 appointees did not fulfill the conditions subject to which relaxation was granted.