Srinagar, Nov 3 : The High Court today quashed the Government order on termination of recruitment process of non-gazetted and Class IV posts by Fire and Emergency Services Department and directed the Government to conduct the selection process in terms of previous advertisement notices.
Court of Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey passed the direction while allowing a bunch of petitions filed by the candidates who had participated in the process of selection for various posts in terms of previous advertisement notices.
The Government order No.381-Home of 2016 dated 05.07.2016 was challenged in these petition whereby the Home Department terminated the process of recruitment that had been initiated and was almost three-fourths completed with respect to various non-gazetted and Class IV posts by Fire and Emergency Services Department.
Justice Magrey quashed the order of Government whereby recruitment process was terminated and directed the authorities to conduct the process of selections from the first phase afresh in tune with previous advertisement notices.
“These petitions are, accordingly, partly allowed, and Government order no.381-Home of 2016 dated 05.07.2016 (termination of recruitment process) to the extent it seeks to terminate the advertisement notices bearing no.01 of 2013 and no.02 of 2013 dated 12.03.2013 and orders that the Director General, Fire & Emergency Services, J&K will issue fresh advertisement notices inviting applications for the non-gazetted / Class IV posts of various categories advertised by the Department in terms of the aforesaid two advertisement notices is quashed”, read the judgment.
Court, however, set free the authorities to advertise the vacancies those have cropped up in the interregnum for a separate selection process.
During the course of arguments, counsel for the petitioners made a statement that even if it be taken that certain irregularities had been committed by the Recruitment Board in the selection process so far undertaken, yet the course available in law to the respondents was to restart the exercise of selection process from the stage of first phase of interviews, viz, the physical test of the candidates, conduct a denovo process of selection vis-a-vis the same candidates pursuant to the advertisement notices.
They further submitted that there was and is no legally tenable reason or justification for the authorities to order issuance of fresh advertisement notice inviting applications for the non-gazetted and Class IV posts of various categories advertised in 2013 and those which have occurred thereafter till date.
It has also been submitted that such a course would be wholly unfair, unreasonable and a device to make those of the candidates eligible to compete in the selection process who were not eligible to apply in 2013, and that this cannot be allowed under any disguise.
On the other hand state counsel argued and submitted that even if the petitioners had been finally selected, they would not acquire any right to appointment and that it is for the Government to decide whether to proceed ahead with a selection process pursuant to an advertisement notice or not as such they cannot raise any grievance against exercise of such a discretion vested with the Government.
Recruitment Board issued another notice notifying the schedule for conducting the first phase of interviews, which included the physical tests and measurements in respect of the eligible candidates who had offered their candidature in response to the above advertisement notices.
So far as the candidates for the posts of Fireman, Fireman Driver and Junior Assistant (Leading Fireman-M) are concerned, their physical tests and measurements were scheduled to be conducted on district-wise basis at the venues and on the dates mentioned against the name of each district.
The case of the petitioners in all these petitions is that they passed the physical tests, duly appeared in the written examination and did well, and that, on the basis of their performance in the written test they expected to be shortlisted and called for interview and by issuance of the impugned Government order, the petitioners claimed violation of their right to consideration for selection and appointment against the public posts they had chosen to apply and, in fact, had been called for conduct of physical test and Written Examination.
Court further said that though the Government is well within its rights to cancel a selection process at any stage but the right of consideration acquired by a candidate possessing eligibility at the time of initial advertisement process has to be protected while undertaking a fresh process.
“However, department is advised to initiate fresh selection process within one month adding with this Court would not go into the sufficiency or otherwise of the material or reasons on the basis of which the Government has taken the decision to terminate the selection process”, Justice Magrey said.
Court after perusal of the impugned order said the same reveals that the Government upon examination of various aspects of the recruitment proceedings had noticed the discrepancies in the conduct of the selection process as enumerated therein on the basis of which it came to the conclusion that the selection process was not transparent and flawless and, therefore, it could not be carried forward.
Court held the discrepancies related to the period and processes undertaken by the Recruitment Board after the last date prescribed for receipt of the application forms and there is nothing contained in these discrepancies as could be said to have rendered the advertisement notices flawed.
Court said, any irregularities committed in the process of selection after the last date of submission of the application forms would not impact the advertisement notices, nor would it give a cause to the Government to make those persons eligible to compete for the posts as did not possess such eligibility criteria and qualifications on the cut off date prescribed in the advertisement notices.