People have criticized those who are protesting now for the immediate cancellation of APPSCCE mains exam 2017-18 for their initial demand of postponement of mains exam and have called them as “non-serious” aspirants who just want more time to prepare. But I would like to clarify those allegations because those people who criticized us didn’t understand our reasoning for the postponement fully. I would like to point out as to why the situation was bound to be uncertain even if the mains exams were to be conducted:
1. Cancellation of ‘prelims 2.0’ was a given based on the previous precedent. Earlier ‘prelims 1.0’ was scrapped all together because there were many anomalies in some optional subjects, most prominent being public administration where questions were copied en masse from www.cssforum.com.pk, a resource website for civil services examinations in Pakistan. In the present scenario the case for re-conduction of prelims is even stronger because APPSC has accepted that 49 questions were out of syllabus which is even bigger blunder than copy pasting. There are many anomalies in other optional subjects too – I have mentioned some anomalies in Geography optional paper in my previous letters. Thus, APPSC suo moto should have scrapped ‘prelims 2.0’ and re-conducted ‘prelims 3.0’ like they did earlier.
2. Since APPSC didn’t resolve the issue with full justice, those aggrieved (who couldn’t qualify prelims due to the fault of APPSC – like commerce optional and 221 other candidates from various optional subjects) filed a case against APPSC in court. The ground was weak in the first place for APPSC to win in court – explained below.
Hence, protesting candidates raised the demand for postponement because we didn’t want to write mains twice because the ground was weak in the first place for APPSC to win in court. Thus, we demanded to resolve the issue first because the situation created was very ‘uncertain’. Also, had those students who would have cleared this exam and had been in service, APPSC wasn’t ready to guarantee their job security if APPSC would have lost this case in court. But APPSC was so hell bent on conducting mains because they couldn’t bear to accept that they have committed a huge blunder once again – this is the second time we wrote prelims of APPSCCE 2017-18 – because this time the backlash from public would have been huge.
Since our demand to “resolve the issue first and then proceed” was not met, hence we had to resort to protest.
Justice (as ‘fairness’ – in Rawlsian terms) is denied to those whose optional papers in ‘prelims 2.0’ were anomalous. APPSC has claimed that those candidates are “adequately compensated” (vague term). But I don’t see any logic in giving compensatory marks for errors in optional paper.
Let me demonstrate via an example – we have optional subjects with 250 total marks, 2 marks each for a question. Let’s say there were 8 anomalous questions in geography optional then compensation marks awarded will be 8 X 2 = 16. Here the Principle of equality (ARTICLE 14) is violated in two scenarios:
1. Amongst geography optional candidates: Here candidates who knew the answer to that anomalous question and those who didn’t are being compensated the same marks.
2. Among candidates with different optional: Here candidates with optional with no anomalies and candidates with geography are not being judged equally. Candidates with other optional are being judged on the basis of 250 marks but candidates with geography optional are being judged on the basis of 234 marks because 16 marks (which is huge in competitive exams) is already compensated for free to all geography candidates, thus violating Equality of Opportunity (ARTICLE 16(1)) too.
Now consider the inequality amongst candidates with optional other than commerce if students with commerce optional with 49 questions out of syllabus got compensatory marks. They will be getting 98 marks for free putting candidates with other optional subjects not at par with them. Also, if they are not given full marks for that 49 questions then their Fundamental right is being violated.
Thus, compensations of marks for the anomalies in optional subjects in any form doesn’t create a level playing field for all candidates. Because justice as fairness is violated in both the scenarios i.e. when marks are compensated for anomalies or when it isn’t.
So, I would like to say to those who are appearing mains who claim that they have their fundamental right to give exams – remember that you guys are writing mains after jeopardizing the rights of those candidates who didn’t even qualify for mains just because of the anomalies in optional papers.
Also, do you think that APPSC stands a chance in court after making a huge blunder of denying Fundamental right to some students?
Hence, Protest was necessary or else this case would have dragged on for years in court (as everyone knows about the lightning pace of our judicial system). Protest could have also created some kind of pressure on APPSC if candidates appearing mains would have joined us due to which APPSC might have resolved the issue suo moto even if the case was sub judice in court because they have the discretion to do that. But instead, they labelled us as “non-serious” aspirants. Hence, we tried to convince them to support us via reasoning, moral appeal, emotional appeal, etc. but that depends on an individual’s conscience which is upto them to act upon. But what those candidates appearing mains failed to see is that ‘Justice as Fairness’ was not meted out to those candidates who couldn’t even qualify for mains due to anomalies in prelims optional subjects, and justice (as fairness) is a constitutional value which must be defended.
Qualified prelims Candidate