Major jolt to PSC, HC cancels KAS Mains exam

Fayaz Bukhari
SRINAGAR, Mar 13:  In a major setback to Public Services Commission, the High Court today canceled the Combined Competitive Examination (Mains) held by it and directed for holding of fresh examinations.
The Division Bench of Justice Janak Raj Kotwal and Justice Sanjeev Kumar directed for cancellation of Combined Competitive Examination held by Public Services Commission.
Court also directed the PSC to hold the Main examination afresh by permitting the candidates who have been shortlisted to participate in the Preliminary examination on the basis of their merit determined upon re-evaluation.
“The candidates numbering 429 who were shortlisted in the first result of the Preliminary examination but could not make it to participate in the Main examination on the basis of their merit determined in the process of re-evaluation”, the DB directed
Court also directed the PSC to permit all those 2365 candidates to sit in Mains who have obtained merit in the Preliminary examination determined in the process of re-evaluation equal to or more than the marks secured by the last candidate amongst aforesaid 429 candidates.
Court after these directions said the examination has been delayed due to litigation as such put hope and trust that the PSC would take immediate steps to hold the Main examination and complete the process culminating into declaration of result without any further wastage of time.
Underscoring the Section 133 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir, Court has made it clear that it is the duty of the Commission to conduct examinations for appointments to the services of the State. “Inherent in the function of the Commission, as enumerated in Section 133, is the duty to hold fair and transparent examinations and make all endeavors to maintain purity of such examinations”, court said.
This duty, Court has held, carries with itself the responsibility to ensure that the model answer keys prepared for evaluating the answer scripts and questions set out in the question paper are correct so that a student who answers that questions correctly does not fail for the reason that though his answer is correct but it does not accord with the answer indicated in the model answer key.
“With the aforesaid directions, the appeal stands disposed off. In the peculiar facts of the case, we do not order any costs. Record be returned back to the counsel for the Public Service Commission”, read the elaborate judgment of DB.
Court has also recorded that it is not impressed by the argument of the PSC counsel Azharul Amin, that the impugned process undertaken by the Commission does not amount to reevaluation. “The moment, the model answer key is corrected, its necessary fallout is re-evaluation of the answer scripts. As we have already held in the light of the law declared by the Supreme Court that the examination body, the Public Service Commission in this case, has inherent power to correct the errors, be it in question papers or the model answer keys and re-evaluate the answer scripts, unless there is specific prohibition in the Statute, Rules or Regulations.
It was pursuant to the requisition made by the General Administration Department for filling up 277 vacancies, with, 269 in Junior Scale of J&K Administrative Service, 2 in J&K Police (Gazetted) Service and 6 in J&K Accounts (Gazetted) Service, and the PSC vide its notification No.PSC/EXM/2016/52 dated 18.06.2016 invited online applications from the permanent residents of the Jammu and Kashmir State for admission to the J&K Combined Competitive (Preliminary) Examination, 2016.
The examination was envisaged to be conducted in two parts-Preliminary examination and Main examination and interview. With this the appellant received 47122 application forms in response to the aforesaid notification, out of which 36681 candidates appeared in the Preliminary Examination which was held on 19.03.2017.
In as many as 6925 candidates which include aggrieved candidates were shortlisted in the Preliminary examination for admission to the Jammu and Kashmir Combined Competitive (Main) examination, 2016.
The last candidate shortlisted for admission to the Main examination scored 270.477 marks out of the aggregate of 450 marks. They, obviously, scored marks more than 270.477. It may be noted that the result of the Preliminary examination was declared by the PSC on 23.04.2017 vide notification No.PSC/Exam/ 2017/22.
Consequently, online applications from the candidates who had been shortlisted in the Preliminary examination for admission to the Main examination were invited by the appellant vide notification No.PSC/Exam/2017/26 dated 09.05.2017. The last date for submission of online applications and for submission of fee/bank challan was initially fixed as 10.06.2017 and 18.06.2017 respectively which was later extended to 28.06.2017 and 30.06.2017 respectively by issuing another notification on 06.06.2017.
The appellant (PSC), instead of conducting the Main examination, came up with a notice issued vide No.PSC/Exam/KAS/10/2017 dated 14.06.2017 whereby result of the Preliminary examination declared on 23.04.2017 was kept in abeyance.
Simultaneously, subsequent notification issued on 09.05.2017 for inviting online applications for admission to the Main examination was also withdrawn. The aforesaid course of action was claimed to be adopted by the appellant pursuant to a decision taken in the 4th extra ordinary meeting of the J&K Public Service Commission held on 12.06.2017.
The PSC claims that after the process of re-verification of the Model (Key) Answers and making necessary corrections, revised answer keys were generated. This revision of the answer keys necessitated re-evaluation of the answer scripts of all the candidates. Accordingly, the PSC vide his notification No.PSC/Exam/2017/44 dated 09.08.2017 declared the revised result of Combined Competitive (Preliminary) Examination, 2016, as a consequence whereof, the applications of 429 candidates, which include private respondent who are 25 in number  had been shortlisted in the earlier result notification but could not make it in the revised result notification issued on 09.08.2017, got rejected being ineligible to participate in the main examination.
“It may be pointed out that in the revised result declared by the appellant, the cut-off merit, that is, the merit obtained by the candidate last shortlisted for Main examination rose to 277.275 marks, whereas in the earlier result notification the cut-off was 270.477 marks”, court said.
The aggrieved candidates who were among the 429 could not make it to the Main examination due to revision of result of the Preliminary examination approached this Court in by way of a writ petition and the writ court directed to treat the writ petition of the respondent Nos. 1 to 25 as representation and consider the same in accordance with law within a period of four weeks. It was also provided that the result of consideration shall also be communicated to them.
“It appears that without considering the grievance of respondent Nos. 1 to 25, as projected and in terms of order of the Writ Court dated 24.08.2017, the appellant came up with a notification being Notification No. PSC/Exam/2017/49 dated 25.08.2017 calling upon the candidates qualified as per revised result notification to fill up their forms for the Main examination”.
DB said, the plea taken by the appellant-PSC to justify the revision of result of the Preliminary examination did not find favour with the Writ Court and vide judgment impugned dated 30.12.2017 the writ petition was disposed by providing that both set of candidates, figuring in the first list issued by the appellant on 23.04.2017 and those figuring in the revised list issued on 09.08.2017, shall be entitled and allowed to sit and participate in the Main examination to this decision of the writ court PSC came up before the Division bench with an appeal.