APPSC approaches HC double bench against ‘expert committee’ order

APPSCCE fiasco continues

[ Nellie N Manpoong ]

ITANAGAR, Dec 23: The Arunachal Pradesh Public Service Commission (APPSC) has approached the Gauhati High Court (HC), seeking a double bench against the 14 November judgment wherein a single-bench judge had ordered for setting up an expert committee under the vice chancellor of Rajiv Gandhi University (RGU) to look into the alleged anomalies in the Arunachal Pradesh Public Service Combined Competitive (Prelims) Examination (APPSCCE).
The commission has filed a writ appeal in the HC against the judgment and sought for the order to be “set aside and quashed.”
The current writ appeal has been listed before the principal seat of the high court on 8 January, 2019, in Guwahati, Assam.
The APPSC said it was “aggrieved and dissatisfied with the impugned common judgment and order,” adding that the single judge failed to take into consideration that any decision on the dispute in question would not only affect the government of Arunachal Pradesh but would also have an effect on the 1,339 qualified candidates.
In its writ appeal, the APPSC clarified that it has looked into the alleged anomalies, submitted in separate representations by the candidates of geography, commerce and civil engineering, with respect to the APPSCCE held on 29 July, 2018.
It claimed to have taken immediate steps to conduct an inquiry into the allegations, and that experts of the subjects in question were duly requested to look into the allegations contained in the representations made by the candidates.
After taking note of the opinion of the experts, the APPSC said, it “decided that 30 questions in geography, 49 questions in commerce and three questions in civil engineering would be dropped which were out of syllabus and the candidates would be allotted marks on pro-rata basis after taking into consideration the marks secured by each candidate out of the remaining questions (excluding dropped questions).”
Providing details about redressing the representations of the candidates, the commission said the question papers for the second preliminary examinations were also outsourced, but by engaging subject experts from different state and central government universities from outside the state, of the level of professor, associate professor and assistant professor.
For the 29 July, 2018 preliminaries, the APPSC said, it had engaged 44 subject experts to set the papers and consulted another 22 experts to moderate the 22 subjects.
It also gave detailed explanation to the court on how the marks were allotted to the candidates after certain anomalies were noted by the commission’s panel of experts.
On the RGU’s interlocutory application for fund (Rs 15 lakhs) on 22 November, 2018, to constitute the expert committee, the commission said “the same is public money, which cannot be allowed to be spent unless compelling reasons ensue,” and sought for the order to be stayed till disposal of the instant writ appeal of the commission.
The APPSC further claimed that the petitioners were mostly from RGU, and that the commission has “reason to believe that the writ petition have been filed on the basis of instigation made by certain professors from the RGU.”
“Under such circumstances, the honourable single judge ought not to have passed the impugned judgment and order… directing the RGU VC to form an expert body,” it said, and sought for the single-judge judgment and order to be quashed.
While the commission assured that it engaged its own panel of subject experts for all claims made by the candidates and duly redressed the representations submitted prior to the results, it said that “after an examination and its results are out, each and every representation regarding the question later does not call for interference under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.”
It does not only “amount to unnecessary interference in public affairs but also demoralizes the qualified candidates,” the APPSC said, adding that the single bench failed to take note of it.
Seeking interim relief, the commission said the judgment of 14 November, 2018, “touches on the rights and duties of the appellant commission and, without a finding that the commission was wrong in its exercise, appointing an expert body, that too from Rajiv Gandhi University, would entail various consequences. The same would have the effect of eroding the reputation of the commission apart from demoralizing the qualified candidates…
“The said impugned judgment and order would be a precedent for all times to come to all candidates who after having failed to qualify in the examination to ask for an appointment of an expert committee to examine the allegations as regards the question papers. This would be an unending affair as much as even after this particular report is submitted, some candidates may again come against the said report,” it said.
Meanwhile, the candidates said they would attend the hearing here on 7 January and then go to Guwahati, where they would submit new findings before the court.
On 14 November, 2018, the single-bench judge of the Itanagar permanent bench of the Gauhati High Court here had passed a common order and directed the vice chancellor of RGU to constitute an expert committee to tender opinion on the 22 subjects of the APPSCCE within 45 days, with the listing of the cases set for 7 January, 2019, for reports and further order at the Itanagar permanent bench of the high court.