JAMMU, Aug 6: Division Bench of State High Court comprising Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey and Justice Tashi Rabstan today dismissed suo-moto PIL and connected matters with regard to controversial digital evaluation of marks in Combined Competitive Examination held by Public Service Commission.
“The issue involved in these clubbed matters, principally, concerns the discontent of a few of the Kashmir Administrative Service (KAS) aspirants, who have failed to make it to the personality test/interview, asserting, among other things, faulty digital evaluation/on screen marking of answer scripts of the candidates in the Jammu and Kashmir Combined Competitive (Main) Examination 2016 held by the Jammu and Kashmir Public Service Commission from 02.07.2018 to 08.08.2018 thereby alleging a prejudice resulting in their non-inclusion in the merit list”, the DB said.
After hearing battery of lawyers, the DB observed, “it was argued that outsourcing of evaluation of answer scripts is not permissible under the rules governing the subject and that in terms of the relevant rules, the paper setters and evaluators are required to be the same”, adding “by introduction of on screen marking, the Commission did not outsource the evaluation of answer scripts to the service provider. The task entrusted to the consultancy or the service provider was only to scan the answer scripts, transmit it electronically to the examiners appointed by the Commission for their evaluation and transmit the marks awarded by such examiners to the Commission”.
“The practice of outsourcing the task of evaluation of answer scripts by the Commission has been in vogue since long. Admittedly, the Commission does not have examiners, evaluators and experts on its establishment as its employees. The Commission has been engaging such personnel available in the country since long and assigning to them this job to be performed in accordance with the instructions framed by the Commission from time to time”, the DB further observed.
The DB said, “being aware of the notification dated 07.12.2017 about insertion of Rule 31A in the Examination Rules, 2005 as also the fact that it was made applicable with immediate effect and the petitioners having participated in the Main Examination but failed to make the grade to be called for personality test/interview, they cannot be allowed to turn around and raise a grievance against the on screen marking system adopted by the Commission and the consequent result of the Main Examination declared by the Commission”.
“We are of the considered view that these writ petitions, therefore, are not maintainable on this count. Introduction of online evaluation and information technology enhance transparency and that change is inevitable: provided the change is foolproof. In the instant case, except the assumptions, nothing is brought on record to even remotely suggest that the change adopted by the Commission is not foolproof”, the DB said.
“Since the matter involved in the PIL has been considered by us on merits in the three writ petitions filed by the unsuccessful candidates, nothing survives to be determined in the PIL. Apart from that fact, we are also of the considered view that the PIL is not maintainable for two reasons: first, that it is settled law that PIL would not lie in service matters; and second, after the PIL was commenced, the unsuccessful candidates filed regular writ petitions raising their grievances”, the DB said while dismissing the PIL along with connected matters.
It is pertinent to mention here that the Supreme Court by judgment dated 21.01.2019 had ordered that the selection process for KAS 2016 can be completed but no appointment will be made. The Supreme Court had also made it clear that the High Court would be free to decide the suo moto Public Interest Litigation on merits.