[ Taba Ajum ]
ITANAGAR, Jan 5: The Arunachal Pradesh Public Service Commission (APPSC) has filed a review petition in the Gauhati high court, challenging the order passed by the court’s single-bench judge on 16 September, 2019, directing the commission to re-conduct the prelims of the Arunachal Pradesh Public Service Combined Competitive Examination (APPSCCE) within eight weeks.
In its petition, the APPSC has prayed for setting aside and quashing the impugned common judgment and order dated 16.9.2019 passed in WP(C) No 475 (AP)/2018 and WP(C) No 486(AP)/2018.
The commission has also appealed for staying the order of the single-bench judge “as an interim measure.” It has cited various grounds, including the involvement of huge expenses in conducting the exam, to justify its seeking a review.
“The commission had incurred huge expenditure to the tune of Rs 1,92,58,587 till date for the purpose of conducting the prelim and the main examinations and if the impugned judgment and order is not stayed it would lead to loss in the public exchequer,” the commission said.
The court has set 23 January as the next date of hearing on the petition.
A source in the APPSC confirmed to this daily that it has filed the petition in the court, in consultation with its standing counsel.
The source also informed that in December 2019, the commission had appealed to the HC for a hearing in the case, which resulted in “non-conduct of the examination which was directed by the Itanagar bench of the Gauhati High Court.”
The APPSC’s decision to file the review petition is expected to further delay the examination. The move naturally has not gone down well with the section of the students in whose favour the HC issued the judgment.
“It has already been more than two years (to be precise, two years, eight months and counting) since the advertisement of the APPSCCE-2017 was published, ie 9/5/2017. But the commission has time and again failed to perform its duty diligently. Many of the candidates are at the threshold of their age limit. The commission’s failure to conduct the recruitment process in a fair and transparent manner has not only hampered the overall morale of the present candidates, the future aspirants are also losing their faith in one of the highest constitutional bodies,” said a candidate.
“By dragging the matter further in the court, the commission has also failed to provide the much required administrative officers for smooth functioning of the state, not to mention the huge burden on the state exchequer,” he added.
The first notification for the examination had been issued on 9 May, 2017. The preliminary of the APPSCCE-2017 was first conducted on 26 November, 2017. But due to various anomalies found in the preliminary examination, the commission, by suo motu action, cancelled the examination.
The prelims were re-conducted on 29 July, 2018, and the very next day, commerce candidates claimed anomalies in the question paper, followed by more claims of anomalies by candidates of other subjects.
Another controversy broke out after the results were declared on 2 August, 2018. The Geography C series candidates alleged that their papers were not properly checked as none of the candidates from that series had cleared the prelims. The commission then reevaluated the papers, and declared another result on 16 August, 2018, in which 76 candidates of Geography C series were cleared after reevaluation of their papers.
The mains examination was conducted on 10 November, 2018, under controversial circumstances. A section of the candidates protested, asking the commission to postpone the exam after uncertainty loomed over the fate of the examination as the court battle dragged on. Many did not attend the exam in protest.
This is not the first time that the APPSC’s incompetence to conduct a controversy-free APPSCCE has been exposed. In March 2015, five officials of the commission were arrested by an SIT while probing the September 2014 question paper leakage case. The state government was forced to constitute the SIT and cancel the mains examination after one of the aspirants, Ujum Perying, launched a hunger strike, after three months of agitation, in January 2015. She was later joined by several others.
At that time, too, the examination had been mired in controversy from the beginning. The prelims were held in September 2013, and the results were declared in June 2014. The first mains was held in September 2014, but was later scrapped after allegation of paper leakage surfaced. The mains exam was re-conducted in July 2015. The results came out in February 2016, and the final results in March 2016.
For the second consecutive time, the APPSC is now taking three years to conduct the APPSCCE, which is supposed to be completed within a year. The failure of the state government to intervene has further angered the candidates.
“There is joblessness in the state and the youths look upto the civil service examinations with hope. For the last six years, the commission has been failing to conduct an error-free APPSCC exam, but the state government is maintaining stoic silence. They cannot wash off their responsibilities by stating that the commission is an autonomous body. The government should act immediately to end the present imbroglio. Our patience is running out,” said a frustrated candidate.
[ Taba Ajum ]