11 Feb 2022 12:03 PM GMT
The Supreme Court on Friday directed Manipur Public Service Commission ("MPSC") to conduct Manipur Public Service Commission 2016 (Main) Exam afresh within a period of 4 months from the date of order.The bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and CT Ravikumar also made it clear that only those candidates (successful/unsuccessful) who had appeared in the main exam conducted in 2016 will be eligible...
The Supreme Court on Friday directed Manipur Public Service Commission ("MPSC") to conduct Manipur Public Service Commission 2016 (Main) Exam afresh within a period of 4 months from the date of order.
The bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and CT Ravikumar also made it clear that only those candidates (successful/unsuccessful) who had appeared in the main exam conducted in 2016 will be eligible to appear in the proposed exam.
It was also directed by the Top Court that if the candidates who were already appointed on the basis of the result of the Main Exam in 2016 are successful in the re conducted Main Exam, then they would be given continuity of service & consequential benefits after being appointed against the concerned post.
The directions have been issued while hearing the SLP filed by State of Manipur assailing Manipur High Court's order dated October 18, 2019 of quashing Manipur Public Service Commission 2016 (Main) exam, with directions to conduct the Main Examination, 2016 and the SLP assailing Manipur High Court's order dated December 17, 2020 of dismissing the review petitions seeking review of October 18, 2019's order.
"Heard counsel for the parties. In peculiar facts of the case we deem it appropriate to dispose of the petition by directing the parties to abide by the following:
We make it clear that for the nature of order that we have passed we are not dilated on the grievance made in the Review Petition or SLP by concerned petitioners nor we understood to have affirmed HC's opinion on the aspects. All contentions in the SLP are left open. Petitions are disposed of with the above terms," the bench noted in its order.
Submission Of Counsels
No Interference Required In Larger Public Interest : Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave
Appearing for the candidates, Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave assisted by Advocate Pranav Sachdeva on the aspect of preliminary objections bescheed the bench to not interfere in larger public interest and dismiss the batch of petitions.
"In April 2016 they issued an advertisement. On July 3 2016, Preliminary Exam was held & on July 8 results came. From 5th September to 23rd September 2016 main exams took place. On 20th Nov 2017 which is the genesis of this probe HC passed an order & appointed a committee of 2 gentlemen to look into allegations that there were large scale irregularities in the main exam. These 2 gentleman children had appeared in the Preliminary Exam & failed on July 8 2016," submitted Senior Counsel.
To further substantiate his contention, Dave while drawing Court's attention to the order dated April 12, 2018 passed by the bench of Justices Kurian Joseph, Shantanagoudar & Navin Sinha and order dated November 22, 2019 passed by the bench of Justices Shantanagoudar and Sanjiv Khanna said that the State of Manipur did not challenge the interim order at any stage.
Referring to the SLP filed by the MPSC, Senior Counsel while emphasizing the fact that the party which was actually aggrieved had withdrawn the SLP said, "Your lordships had issued limited notice on the issue with regards to the investigation by CBI which was withdrawn by the Commission."
Earlier State Never Raised An Objection; Abuse Of Process Of Law: Advocate Prashant Bhushan
Appearing for the Candidates, Advocate Prashant Bhushan while referring to the counter affidavit filed by MPSC submitted that the findings that were arrived at by the second committee were based on the answer sheets which were with MPSC. In this regard, Bhushan contended that the Commission was fully aware as to who were the members of the committee who had failed in the exam and had participated.
Emphasizing on the State never raising an objection earlier, Bhushan said that the SLP was an abuse of the process of law.
In The Report, Clerical Issues Have Been Pointed Out & Not Of Illegality. Report Is Factually Biased: Solicitor General Tushar Mehta
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for the State of Manipur raised objections with regards to setting aside the entire exam based on the report of the second commission. He further argued that when some of the affected candidates preferred RTI to find out the credentials of the two members of the second Commission, they found out that 2 children of 1 member and 1 child of other members had appeared and failed in preliminary examination.
"When the entire exam is set aside based upon a report prepared by 2 members who suppressed the facts that they are conflicting. It's not actual bias but the appearance of the bias which counts," Mr Mehta added.
He further argued that when the report was prepared by the 2 member committee they were not aware that their children would not get benefits and that the High Court would only direct conducting fresh exams for the main exam.
"Based upon these 2 individuals those who were selected, appointed & working will now be at the risk of failing & going out. It's a poisonous fruit which they will be getting. In the report, clerical issues have been pointed out & not of illegality. Report is factually biased," SG further added.
The bench at this juncture expressed its inclination to issue directions for allowing only those students to appear for the exam who had appeared in the main exam.
"Children of the members of the Committee participated only in the preliminary exams. Let us go 1 step back, after the exam, candidates approached the Court which was dismissed. For the successful candidates the order is binding. It's you who are taking exception. We'll record that they will not appear since they have failed the preliminary exam," remarked Justice AM Khanwilkar.
"So far as High Court's order of 18th October 2019, it is very clear that only the main exam is to be conducted so even the students who appeared in the main exam will be allowed. MPSC had filed SLP & had limited the matter to CBI issue and did not challenge the other issue. When that appeal was pending in Supreme, you filed a review petition with that allegation & no such pt was brought before this court. If MPSC is party to the situation, then successful candidates & MPSC, both have failed. Now where is that application for withdrawal of case by MPSC. What will happen, SC failed before this court & MPSC did not take permission before this court to withdraw the matter & pursue the same. Now MPSC is riding your back. If we allow your petition MPSC will get advantage," Justice Khanwilkar further remarked.
Commission That Was Appointed By The Court Had Members Whose Children Had Failed In The Preliminary Exam: Senior Advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul
Neeraj Kishan Kaul for earlier successful candidates who were now suffering due to impugned order submitted that the Commission that was appointed by the Court had members whose children had failed in the preliminary exam.
"The Writ Petition in which the Commission was appointed asked for the entire exam to be set aside right from the beginning. The 2 member commission came to be appointed was headed by people whose children failed. The Division Bench orders relied on the report. The RTI was after the Division Bench's order. Today the Commission was appointed by the court whose children were not successful. Impugned order in review says that they are private citizens, they will not be bound by the principles of Natural Justice," Kaul said.
On Kaul's submission, Justice AM Khanwilkar said, "This is a public post, Mr Kaul. Your whole argument is founded on assumption & legal basis that even if not in fact in law the report is vitiated. In law- the matter came up to this court & this court upheld the HC's order. Why should we reopen at your instance?"
While Additional Advocate General Rarry Mangsatabam for the State of Manipur pointed out that another writ petition has been filed to conduct the exam from preliminary stage & notice has been issued in this, Justice AM Khanwilkar said,
"There is some problem with the Public Service Commission it appears. If the exam was conducted with proper supervision all this could not have happened."
Senior Advocate Siddhartha Dave appeared for the MPSC.
Manipur Civil Services Combined Competitive Examination, 2016 was conducted on July 3, 2016 and the detailed result was declared on October 4, 2016. Some unsuccessful candidates had approached the High Court alleging irregularities and the Single Judge on December 21, 2016 issued various directions and constituted the First Commission by appointing a Retired Judge of the Gauhati High Court (Director of Manipur Judicial Academy) as the Commissioner to look into the allegation made by the unsuccessful candidates. On February 28, 2017 the Single Judge dismissed all the petitions that were filed challenging the correctness of the First Reports.
The candidates also approached the Single Judge in 2017 praying for quashing of MCSCC Examination 2016 and the notifications issued by the State of Manipur and also sought CBI inquiry. The Single Judge on November 20, 2011 passed an order of appointing Second Committee
On October 18, 2019 the High Court while relying on the Report by the Second Committee directed for quashing Manipur Public Service Commission 2016 (Main) exam, with directions to conduct the Main Examination, 2016 afresh and also issued directions for conducting CBI inquiry.
On December 23, 2019 pursuant to RTI filed by applicants seeking list of the successful candidate from MPSC who had appeared for Prelims Examination of MCSCC Examination, 2016, it was revealed that three children of not one, but both the members of the Second Committee having unsuccessfully appeared in MCSCC Examination 2016.
Due to the discovery of new and important evidence and material about the breach of principles of natural justice and fraud committed by both the members of the Second Committee, and which was not known at the time of passing of impugned First Judgment, the State filed a review petition against October 18, 2019 order. However the same was dismissed by the High Court on December 17, 2020.
Case Title: The State Of Manipur Etc And Ors. Versus Shalini Chingtham And Ors.| Diary No. 5680-2021
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