The Allahabad High Court on Friday stayed the interim order passed by a single-Judge of the High Court, staying the recruitment process of 69,000 Assistant Basic Teachers in Uttar Pradesh.
The order has been passed by a division bench comprising of Justice PK Jaiswal and DK Singh, in a special appeal preferred by the Examination Regulatory Authority, Allahabad.
The bench has however clarified that the state Government will be at liberty to continue with the selection process for 37,000 posts that were kept vacant for Siksha Mitras, in terms of the Supreme Court order dated June 9 in Subedar Singh & Ors. v. State of UP & Ors.
On June 3, while hearing 31 writ petitions against the authority, a single-Judge bench of Justice Alok Mathur had stayed all proceedings for selection of assistant basic teachers and had referred the matter to the UGC, while it was of a considered opinion that there has been a material error in evaluation of the question paper.
On a perusal of the final answer key, the bench noted that there was "serious confusion" due to which a large number of candidates are liable to suffer for no fault of theirs.
The UP Examination Regulatory Authority had therefore preferred an appeal, stating that it was not given an opportunity to present its case.
The Respondents argued that the special appeal was not maintainable against an interlocutory order. However, the court was of the opinion that the impugned order has "trappings" of a final judgment and therefore, the appeal is sustainable.
"The Special Appeal against the impugned order does have the trappings of a judgment, affects the right of the parties and at this stage, we cannot dismiss the appeal as not maintainable," the court said.
Non-joinder of necessary parties
The examination authority pointed out that the Single Judge had not taken note of the judgment in Ranjan Kumar v. State of Bihar, (2014) 16 SCC 187, which mandates the impleadement of each and every candidate to the proceedings, and therefore, it was contended that the impugned order was bad in law for non-joinder of necessary parties.
The court observed that this issue needed re-consideration.
"The objection before the learned Writ Court regarding nonjoinder of proper parties was based on the law laid down before Apex Court in the cases of Ranjan Kumar and others v. State of Bihar and others [supra] and Rashmi Mishra v. M. P. Public Service Commission and others [supra] and thus needs re-consideration," the order states.
Benefit of incorrect answer/questions
The Petitioner also argued that the Single Judge had patently erred in law in taking upon himself functioning of a Subject Expert that certain answers were incorrect and some of the questions had more than two alternative answers.
The authority argued that as per the law settled in Ranvijay Singh v. State of UP, (2018) 2 SCC 357, in case of any doubt regarding the correctness of the question/ answer, the benefit shall go in favour of the appellants and not the candidate.
Concurring with this submission, the Court said,
"The ratio of Ranvijay Singh (supra) has not been considered in its true perspective and the learned Writ Court has observed that in case of doubt with regard to any question, the benefit should go to the Examining Authority rather than to the candidate, yet passed the impugned order staying the notification dated 8.5.2020 and all further proceedings thereon and, therefore we are of the view that prima facie case for interim relief is made out by the appellants."
Accordingly, the High Court stayed the impugned, subject to the Supreme Court's June 9 order. It said,
"Pending notice, the operation and effect of impugned order dated 3.6.2020 passed in Writ Petition No. 8056 (SS) of 2020, Rishabh Mishra & others v. State of U.P. and others and other connected writ petitions, shall remain stayed, until further orders of this Court. However, the State Government is at liberty to proceed further in terms of Apex Court's order dated 21.5.2020 passed in Special Leave Petition (Civil) Diary No.11198 of 2020, Ram Sharan Maurya & Ors. v. State of U.P. & Ors. and order dated 9.6.2020 passed in Special Leave to Appeal (C) No(s).6687 of 2020, Subedar Singh & Ors. v. The State of Uttar Pradesh & Ors."
The court has issued notices to the Respondents and has posted the matter for consideration after 10 weeks.
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