By Dr B C Rajkumar-
It is easier said than done to recruit and select a negligible percentage from a large section of educated unemployed youths, and when the expectation is high. It is also an unenviable task to conduct in a corrupt environment, a constant pressure of higher authority insisting to sell out self-respect and to resist susceptible political interference. However, this does not mean that recruitment & selection should not be carried out, and if implemented it should be conducted in contravention of the court’s orders, violating the established directives, norms and procedures through corrupt and back door practices at the cost of aspiring and deserving educated candidates. This gives enough scope to approach the court for justice and increases the trust deficit towards the authority and system. It is also true in the appointment, promotion, regularisation, and other service matters. The media bring some to the public domain for awareness and to judge. Otherwise, sweep under the carpet to cover up for the fear of negative publicity and fixing the responsibility! It is an incredulous and shameless act for an educated and democratic society.
The complex issue of Unemployment
Unemployment is a known complex issue and a riddle. The overall unemployment rate of India in 2018 was 6.1 per cent as per the National Sample Survey Office, and 8.48 per cent in October 2019 as per Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy. The main concern of Manipur is the growing number of educated unemployed youths between 15 to 29 years in 2012-13, and it was 112 per 1000 labourers in the same age group as compared to overall India’s 31 per 1000. Whereas the literacy rate of such a small state was 76.94 per cent in 2011, which is higher than the national average of 74.04 per cent in the corresponding year. The working force comprises contractual employees, work charged muster roll, Home Guard, casual employee, grant-in-aid employee, and VDF besides regular permanent employees.
Employment exchanges registration of Manipur increased from 2.28 lakh on June 30, 1993 to 7.14 lakh on June 30, 2012, and 7.50 lakh by February 2019, which is alarming; many educated youths are yet to register in the live-registers. In 2011 for the employment of about 1000 armed Village Defence Force (VDF), some 17,000 graduates and postgraduate candidates applied, though the eligibility qualification was not even matriculation. Almost 18,000 candidates applied against RIMS’s notification of January 16, 2016 to appoint 134 Multi Tasking Staff (MTS) including four posts for persons with disabilities.
Migration of educated Manipur youths and the trauma
The educated youths migrate outside the state for opportunities as Manipur has limited scope for engaging a large unemployed educated youth. Manipuris are working in different capacities in big cities, leaving aside those working in government services. In 2011, the Northeast Support Centre & Helpline, New Delhi, estimated about 50 lakh people migrated to Delhi and other metropolitan cities from Northeast states.
Against this backdrop and anxiety, if the employment is inequitably conducted at the cost of educated unemployed youths and against public trusts it is the degradation of society, hindering the development process and curtailing the prospects of the future generation. When such educated youths believe and openly utter with a sense of helplessness and frustration that every government job has a price tag and auction through the backdoor and the government job is meant for a few near and dear of selective influential persons, it is a sign of society’s degeneration. In this rat race, some families, unfortunately, sale or mortgage their paddy fields, residential lands, ornaments and borrow at high-interest rates to meet the demands for a bribe even for the lowest post. The trauma of the candidates and families begins when not selected and approach for the refund of the paid bribe amount; however, those selected and employed by giving a bribe, in return, they would be corrupt at least to recover the bribed money. Corruption breathes corruption. Otherwise, they are disillusioned and disgruntled, their hope and aspiration dwindled and susceptible to other harmful acts, even self-destruction.
Manipur alarmingly stands 9th among the highest number of Injecting Drug Users (IDU) in the country (Report published by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment), and there are 34 IDUs for every 1000 people. As per the National Mental Health Survey of India reports of 2015-16, Manipur has the highest lifetime prevalence of 19.9 per cent as compared to the national rate of 13.9 per cent, and at present, it is 13.9 per cent and 10.5 per cent respectively. Citing the Supreme Court’s 2002 order, it is felt for the urgent need of a mental hospital.
Corrupt practices and grey areas
In such a small state where everyone knows about others or otherwise speaks out in no time, it is hard to keep corrupt activities as a secret; the proverbial (Biblical origin, Mathew 6:3) ‘Never let your left hand know what your right hand is doing’ does not hold true.
Some proponents might cite a larger picture of other scams as precedent, that suite their evil intentions and activities. That does not justify the illegal acts, which are worse than cancer and eat up the root of development and an eyesore. Can such a small state with limited resources, financial constraint and mainly depends upon the central government’s assistance with such large educated unemployed youths afford such unacceptable activities at the cost of society?
Public perception and scrutiny are bound to be there in a democratic set-up, like it or not. The public cannot be blamed and stopped from expressing their opinions; keep in mind the paradoxical saying ‘Everything that is run by the government looks very bad except government jobs’. The concerned authority should exploit such an opportunity to prove a point and clarify their stand openly if it is factually incorrect and misleading. MPSC clarified the doubt about the question papers I and II of rescheduled examinations on 17 and 18 March 2019 for recruitment of section officers for civil engineers against advt. no.02/2019 of Jan.22, 2019 by stating that it never had in the last two years and acknowledged the mistake and ensured to develop a procedure to prevent such a situation.
When the employment process is executed transparently with no malafide intention, there is no reason to be concerned.
However, it provokes public conscience that leads to condemnation and lost the trust bestowed if procrastinate intending to wait till the courts direct to do so or create a situation like Samuel Beckett description in his novel ‘ Waiting for Godot’ — a situation where waiting for something to happen, but it probably never will.
There are instances of courts’ interference in the recruitment and selection. It was brought in the public domain on January 22, 2019 that a genuine female candidate applied against the advertisement of November 27, 2008 for the selection of sub-inspector (Civil) under meritorious sports person reservation. She was not selected when declared the result on January 30, 2010, but candidates with fake sports certificates were selected. Aggrieved, she filed a petition before the Manipur High Court in 2012 for justice. She fought for seven years, including SLP (WPC. No 427/2012) filed in February 2016 before the Supreme Court. The court gave favourable verdict after inquiry and verification of her sport’s certificate as the genuine candidate who represented Manipur University in All India Inter-University Football Tournament. She fought for 10 valuable years for want of justice, spent considerable money and had enough mental harassment, but ultimately justice prevailed by providing her the job after the court’s interference and order of November 8, 2016 and the state’s cabinet decision.
In WP (C) No.833 of 2018, the High Court of Manipur directed Manipur Public Service Commission (MPSC) to provide certified copies of 82 candidates selected in the MCSCC (Main) Examination within 15 days. This is despite Manipur Information Commission (MIC) direction to MPSC, in response to an RTI application of June 13, 2017, to provide the certified copies of the answer sheets of the examination conducted in 2016 and mark tabulation sheets of all candidates appeared in the examination and further to pay Rs.5,000 to the High Court Bar Association, Manipur. The consequential outcome is now in the public domain. The Supreme Court has upheld the order of Manipur High Court.
The Division Bench of Manipur High Court quashed the order of the learned Single judge of Feb.28, 2017 in W.A. No. 19 0f 2017 and others set aside the order passed on June 22, 2017 and June 26, 2017 and on June 23, 2017 of MCSCCE, 2016 conducted by the MPSC for the selection of 82 posts. Further directed CBI, New Delhi to investigate the conduct of the MCSCCE, 2016 within three months and take appropriate action in accordance with the law, and to conduct the main examination 2016 afresh after due notice to the candidates.
No hard and fast rules
There are no hard and fast rules and procedures for recruitment & selection. It generally involves planning, organising, controlling and direction with extra care for controlling people, involved directly or indirectly in the process. The general operating procedure involved as stated under may not be conclusive but can realize the weak and grey areas where the perpetrators likely to have calculative easy access and manipulation. Some cases which are brought to public attention in the last two or three years are cited.
The employment process begins with strategic manpower planning to identify the required manpower and completes it after filling up. It covers job analysis, description, specifications, and design. The cadre schemes should be the basis, kept handy and rely on. It should be proactive and normally for five years. Proper strategic manpower planning is required to check the rise of unemployment and underemployment. Otherwise many vacancies will remain and haphazardly fill-up with an arbitrary decision as an excuse for short–term crisis management. This is an opportunity for back door employment. The extension of service even after normal retirement would take place, blocking the growth experience, and the prospect of the line of promotion. Normally it is an extension of service or engagement of retired officials for a short period in advisory or consultancy capacity to meet the exigency with no ulterior motive, but not re-employment.
It was charged for the fraudulent appointment of two Jr. Resident Dentist posts in JNIMS against the notification of March 17, 2017, to appoint 65 Junior Residents in 14 departments for six months. Though it was only to appoint two Jr. Residents Dentist as given in the notice, another order was issued on 6 April, 2017 for one doctor in the same department for six months. The two Junior Residents’ names were recommended by the selection board on 24 March, 2017, but not as per the condition of notification. The Prof. of Dental department submitted a petition to its Director on April 7, 2017 that the two candidates were not eligible.
The protest at Maphou dam and Nongpok Keithelmanbi area and demand by ATSU, Manipur to withdraw the order for service extension of Chief Engineer, Water Resources after retirement in contrary to the government’s cabinet decision and for not honouring the Manipur High court’s order.
Need for succession planning for filling and replacement
The projected vacancies need to be filled up by an internal method of promotion, transfer, deputation, develop and regularisation, then only by the direct method. This requires succession planning for filling and replacement, for instance, demand for regularization of 220 linesmen before hiring new candidates of MSPDCL, Manipur.
The promotion policy and method of deciding seniority should be clear ab initio, whether it is ‘Seniority-cum-Merit’ or ‘Merit-cum-Seniority’ or ‘combination of both’. There are chances of manipulation in the seniority list. That is why roasters/ seniority list need to be meticulously prepared and properly maintained. Invariably the roasters for SC/ST/OBC are checked by the Commission. The publication of seniority lists of Manipur Police Service (MPS) and promotion of Junior MPS officers superseding Senior, in spite of Manipur High Court’s decision of July 7, 2017 quashing and setting aside the order, directed to prepare fresh seniority list within three months. It was also upheld by Divisional Bench of the Gauhati High court on August 26, 2018. The Supreme Court on Nov.19, 2019 also upheld the High Court’s judgment, by dismissing the appeal by direct recruit MPS batch officers of 2007, and directed to prepare a revised inter seniority list.
The sole aim of recruitment and selection process is to select transparently the right people in the right place at the right time. Recruitment begins with identifying manpower requirements and ends with receiving applications. It immediately precedes the selection and is to locate and attract the right potential candidates. The way the advertisement for recruitment & selection is handled affects and enhances the image of the dept. or commission. Here applicants prefer truthfulness and honest presentation to satisfy the needs; it is the key characteristic of recruitment. Whether it is employment or appointment, any corrigendum or addendum particularly eligibility criteria after advertisement casts doubt and put the appointing authority in a tight position and surveillance. Therefore, it should be extra cautious before notification, and already laid down Cadre Scheme should be the basis. There is scope for manipulation and modify in qualifications, experience, age and procedural to accommodate some selected individuals. If the change in the advertisement is of utmost necessary for the benefit of all, it needs to notify earnestly including on the official website, but not to hush up with deprivation and discrimination.
There was strong doubt against the inconsistency in the recruitment & selection of District Coordinators or District Programme Coordinators for a year on a contract basis under different advertisements and notifications for holding an interview, and modification of eligibility criteria of District Coordinators in the advertisement notified on January 11, 2019. Earlier the notified required qualification was MSW, Master in Public Health, MBA or Master in Food & Nutrition, but it was changed to Graduate or certificate/ Diploma in Computer Science or Diploma in IT.
Rongmei Students Union ( RSU) , Manipur alleged that 70 posts of teaching and non-teaching staffs of Eklavya Residential Model School, Tamelong District (210 posts of Tamelong, Chandel and Senapati District) was recruited without publishing notification in any local papers or media, and in violation of the election model code of conduct. Hence, demanded the cancellation of the recruitments and for fresh notification in all major newspapers.
Intricacy of discrimination
It is necessary to understand the intricacy of discrimination and compliance of Presidential directives, memoranda, and guidelines. It is generally challenged for noncompliance with Constitutional provisions mainly Art. 14 (Equality before Law), 15 (Prohibition of Discrimination), 16 (Equality of Opportunity in matters of Public Employment), 46 (Promotion & protection from social injustice and all forms of exploitation of SC, ST, and other weaker sections), 335 (Claims of SC and ST to services and posts), 338 & 338A (National Commission for SC and ST), 341 (Scheduled Castes), 342 (Scheduled Tribe). The Constitution does not define OBC, but in pursuance of Supreme Court judgment in Indira Sawhney Vs Union of India & others (AIR 1993 SC 477, 1992), the Central Govt. enacted the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) Act for OBC. The Head of the Dept. is responsible for implementing the Presidential directives.
On SC/ST/OBC the Presidential directives, office memoranda, State Govt.’s directives and rules & regulations and orders of Supreme Court is required for strict compliance. It should incorporate the reservation of 3 percent of vacancies for disabled persons who suffer from not less than 40 percent of relevant disability of which 1 percent each for (i) Blindness or low vision, (ii) Hearing impairment and (iii) Locomotors disability or cerebral palsy under Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act,1995, rules for reservation for Ex-Servicemen, meritorious sportsmen and other legislation or Memoranda of the State. The age relaxation, exemption from payment of examination and application fee of different categories should be notified. The list of identified jobs/posts which can be reserved for differently-abled persons should be kept as per Sec.32 of the Act, and reservation should be indicated along with other vacancies, so that such candidates can also apply along with others. A separate register of 100 points will be maintained for the identified post of physically handicapped, and point no.33, 67 and 100 will be reserved.
Reservation roster and the tricky situation
Maintaining reservation roster is a must for SC/ST/OBC, which should apply to post based and not to vacancies after the Supreme Court Judgment on R.K. Sabharwal Vs State of Punjab (AIR1995 SC1371). Many tricky situations may arise such as submission of OBC certificate after the last date mentioned in the advertisement and eligibility for selection to the post under O.B.C. category (Ramkumar Gijroya Vs Delhi S.S.S. Board & others, SLP ( C) 27550/ 2012 of Supreme Court).
All Tribal Students Union (ATSUM) demanded to cancel the notification of February 28, 2019 for the recruitment of multi-tasking staff under RIMS, Manipur as the recruitment did not follow proper reservation norms, despite the State Govt. instructed RIMS on 28 June, 2016 to follow proper guidelines of Dept. of Personnel and Training ( DOPT). The recruitment notification of 2016 was kept on abeyance till 2019.
ATSM urged to halt the recruitment & selection process of nine LDC of June, 2019 notification at RIMS and sought their constitutional rights of reservation in Group ‘C’ and ‘D’ and for correction of reservation.
Roadmap for the selection criteria
Selection begins once the recruitment ends with receiving applications. At this stage the appointing authority and his team will walk on thin ice and nerve-racking. The head of the authority should lead from the front with the ulterior motive to select the best candidates, and be able to neutralize the constant pressure from higher authority, resist the temptation and susceptible political interference to exploit the situation to their advantage.
The roadmap for the selection criteria should be prepared beforehand, maintain confidentiality and the process should be as per the aforesaid criterion. There are landmark court’s rulings against the changing of goal post particularly after the selection process starts and there was no such stipulation at the time of initiation of the recruitment process; the court directs to treat equally among the equals. The authority during the selection process or after the selection process cannot add any additional requirement/qualification (Yogesh Yadav Vs Union of India & others, S.L.P. (C) 34427/2011 of Supreme Court).
It requires control, clear direction, surveillance, deliberate and meticulous execution, consistent and transparent action. The role of invigilators, supervisors, examiners, question paper setters, printer, and evaluator are crucial and sensitive. The concerned areas are the selection of suitable examination centres, question papers setting and printing with strict vigilance, identification of candidates, the opening of the sealed question paper packets in front of the candidates in the exams hall and acknowledgment by the candidates, strong confidential rooms for keeping questions, answer scripts, duly signed documents under sealed red wax, decide ‘ Dos and Don’ts and strict measures to avoid impersonation inside and outside examination halls, selection and detailed briefing of invigilators and examiners, comparing and taking signatures of the examinees and duly authenticated by invigilators and other authorized officials wherever and whenever it is necessary, security set up. There should be hawk-eyed scrutiny while examining answer scripts, tabulation and declare the result at the earliest. This may not be the complete full proof checking of loopholes. The concerned authority may adopt any other measures to secure the process as long as there is no discrimination, harassment and treated equally. If the situation demands it should be photographed, video graphed and CCTV camera be installed.
The ratio to be called for viva-voce is normally decided after the written exam. and follow the guidelines, directives, rules such as whether there should be a separate board for SC/ST/OBC or female member in the board if there is female candidate and finalize the composition of the interview board strictly confidential. The marking criteria for the viva-voce should be decided on record. It should be clear which Grade posts to be done way with the interview. As per Office Memorandum of Ministry of Personnel Public Grievances & Pensions, DOPT no.39020/02/2016- Estt . ( B) dated 13.4.2017 and subsequent memorandum of 29.12.2015 and 31.12.2015 for the discontinuation of interviews for junior levels posts, and clarification for application to all posts up to Group ‘B’ ( Non-Gazette) irrespective of the mode of appointment i.e., promotion, deputation , direct recruitment, etc. for bringing transparency in employment process. In pursuance to DOPT, state cabinet adopted a resolution on 24.3.2017 and decision on 28.3.2017 to dispense with viva-voce/interview in the recruitment of Grade III and IV.
In contravention Town planning, Manipur notified for Grade III and IV posts with interview, keeping 20 marks for viva-voce/interview for one LDC, Office Assistant cum Computer Operators, three drivers and four Peons. In Jan., 2018, there was of recruitment in the Assembly Secretariat 12 employees ( one Assistant Curator, one Conservation Assistant, 4 Guide Lecturer, 2 Receptionist and 4 Gallery Attendant through interview/ viva voce. Again one Translator, two Reporters, 2 LDAs and one Peon were recruited in February, 2018 regularly through written and interview/viva voce. Results for direct recruitment of one Compositor and one Assistant Security Sub Inspector were announced on November 30, 2018 both through physical tests and interviews.
In selection, validity and reliability of the selected candidate has a strong basis. When the correlation between the candidate’s performance and identified criteria for the job is higher, the validity is significant and reliable when there is consistency of measurement of a candidate. So if the same candidate consistently produces similar results in each test or assessment it is reliable and the scores or ratings or rankings of the same candidate on separate occasions differ significantly for each test or assessment, it is unreliable.
The beginning of the reception of the favourable candidates
Declaring the shortlisted candidates means the beginning of the reception of the candidates with favourable impression for final selection after medical fitness, relevant certificates, and police verification. The more the result is delayed the more the suspicion of the public and increases the opportunity for the intruders. Hence, the result should be declared at the earliest. The appointment of Asstt . Prof. in 2014-17 was charged for delay in the declaration of final results and alleged for some discrepancies with suggestions for major changes in mode and improvement to its selection scheme.
There is a need for strict verification of Class X and Class XII for age proof from the concerned board/ council/institutes to avoid age manipulation and fake certificates. Manipulations of age proof, submission of forged matriculation certificate and impersonation surface frequently. A rider clause needs to be inserted for safeguard and to avoid forgery or impersonation. Hence, in the offer of appointment a clause be included as given in Office Memorandum no. 36033/4/97-Est. ( Res), dated 25.7.2003, issued by Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, DOPT, New Delhi.
In Manipur, six graduate teachers who submitted forged documents during the recruitment & selection process were terminated in January, 2018 for submitting forged B. Ed. degree, without pursuing B. Ed. course, which was a prerequisite compulsory. They were appointed on 22 December, 2016 by submitting forged mark sheets and B.Ed. certificates. It was directed to file FIR against them and recover pay and allowances drawn by them within six months.
In October, 2019 Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) registered FIR against an Indian Revenue Service Officer who cleared UPSC more than a decade for manipulating to appear in the examination as he was overage to apply for the UPSC’s 2007 Civil Service examination, and even allocated IRS (and Central Excise). Thereby i ndicate someone within the examination system helped; he did not submit any date of birth certificate or the certificate of clearing class X or Class XII.
In May, 2019 over 200 students detained from 50 different Higher Secondary Schools of Manipur, allegedly used fraudulent documents/ certificates for admission in Class XI, issued by Assam Sanskrit Board which was renamed Kumar Bhaskar Varma Sanskrit and Ancient Studies University, though recognized by CBSE the certificates were forged and used for admission and sat for the Class XI examination. Such certificates are used as age proof at the time of employment, which needs verification from the respective boards or authority.
The certificate verification of professional and university or institute is a must. The course/degree should be approved by the concerned Statutory Professional Council(s)/authority wherever applicable. An engineering degree might be issued by a university or deemed or autonomous or accredited, but might not be recognized by All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), national-level council for technical education under Dept. of Higher Education, Ministry of HRD. If the degree is not approved by AICTE, the degree is not valid, for instance, MBBS course not recognised by MCI, LL.B. course by Bar Council of India, Pharmacist/ compounder regulated by Pharmacy Council of India under Pharmacy Act,1948, otherwise the candidate cannot practice .
The State Public Service Commission of a state serves as the largest employment authority. The process of employment by such authority should not be allowed to cast any doubt, and that leads to such a situation allowing more skeleton tumbles from the cupboard. The civil services act as the link between the public and government and deal with the administration, policy formulation and implementation, take final and sensitive weighty social decisions responsibly. It requires serving transparently, and if they render sincerely and honestly in public interest, they can do lots with the authority given on them. Whereas if incompetent bureaucrats are selected and allowed to function, there will be a collapse in administration in the long run.
In the Assam Public Service Commission (APSC) cash-for-jobs scam of combined competitive examination, 2013, the Chief Minister of Assam stated that the chairman, two members of the commission, 20 state civil service officers, 7 state police service officers, 9 allied service officers and 5 other employees of APSC were arrested for alleged discrepancies in the answer scripts, which were seized from the APSC, found anomalies/discrepancy on forensic test. The police suspected that the answer script of one of the selected candidates, working as Dy. Supdt . of police, was written by his wife. The handwriting tests and forensic examinations of their answer sheets showed their handwriting did not match and anomalies. This led to dismissal and arrest for their alleged involvement in cash-for job scam and in jail. The chairman was accused of printing fake duplicate APSC answer sheets in his private printing press; several candidates of the 2013 batch of ACS, APS and other services were charged for writing their answer script for the second time. The answer copies have forged the signatures of the invigilators or the signatures of invigilators who were not on duty on that particular date. The investigating team seized the answer scripts of all 241 candidates who had cleared the 2013 and 2014 exam. At the time of arrest, they were serving in responsible posts.
MPSC has invited criticism, raised eyebrows and tarnished the image of the Commission in the recruitment and selection of Govt. college principals conducted by MPSC. ATSUM pointed out around December, 2017 to come clean, and alleged as a fraught with lapses, favoritism, discrepancy, nepotism and cronyism. Further alleged that the Commission overlooked rules and regulations framed by the Commission itself did not cross-check the academic antecedents ignored the required maximum of 15 years service period of the short-listed candidates included age bar candidates and such candidates the Supreme Court quashed for producing forged document and one claimed as a research guide.
MPSC conducted DPC for the promotion of Asst . Engineers of Water Resources Department to Executive Engineers on Feb.3, 2018 despite Manipur High Court’s interim order of Jan.19, 2018, though categorically directed that no such DPC should be held till Jan.31, 2018 and again heard on Jan.31, 2018 and issued another interim order not to have DPC till Feb. 5, 2018 based on writ petitions filed by some AEs of the Water Resources Dept. on Dec. 4, 2017. Rules and Regulations pertaining to the promotion of AEs to EEs were amended twice. The second amendment for the eligibility criteria for the promotion was published in a gazette notification issued on Jan.4, 2018. The amendment had relaxed for one time, stating that out of 17 years of regular service at least two years’ regular service should be in the grade of Asst . Engineer, and would apply till March 31, 2018. It was alleged that repeated opportunities were given by amending the rules and regulations twice.
The cancellation and postponement indefinitely of preliminary examination in May,2019 for the recruitment and selection of Manipur Civil Service, Manipur Police Service, Manipur Finance Service, Sub-Deputy Collector and Manipur Secretariat Service, and also in 2008 due to some anomalies. The Manipur High court on February 28, 2017 directed MPSC to rectify and to frame rules and regulations to conduct examinations, citing anomalies, serious loopholes, and flaws in conducting exams of 2016. Responding to an RTI application, received in April, 2018 , confirmed that the Commission did not follow the directives of the court, thus forced the cancellation of Preliminary examination with the reasoning that MPSC could not conduct the competitive exams smoothly on account of the absence of complete rules and regulations and framed contempt.
In W.A. No. 19 of 2017 & others, the Division Bench of High Court of Manipur in October,2019 passed a landmark and hard-hitting judgment (151 pages) quashing the order of Feb.28, 2017 passed by the learned Single judge and set aside the order passed by the Department of Personnel, Deputy Secretary on June 22,2017 and June 26,2017, and Deputy Secretary ( Revenue) on June 23,2017 of Manipur Civil Service Combined Competitive Examination ( MCSCCE),2016 conducted by the MPSC under the notification on December 29,2015 for filling 82 posts for MCSCCE under the provision of MCSCCE Rules. The Court further directed CBI, New Delhi to investigate the conduct of the MCSCCE,2016 within three months and take appropriate action in accordance with law, and open to MPSC to conduct the main examination 2016 afresh after due notice to the candidates. All selected candidates were in service at the time of court’s order.
The inquiry report submitted on July 9, 2018 by two-member committee pointed out the discrepancies, gross irregularities, manipulation or alterations, final marks of some candidates were entered higher than the actual marks they scored, final marks of many other candidates as entered the score sheets were found lesser than they scored, detected the absence of the signature of examiners, supervisors and invigilators on the answer sheets, tabulation errors, manipulation of marks without signatures of examiners and altered without examiner’s signatures, allotment of marks without evaluating answer scripts and other discrepancies.
The operative parts of the judgment and observation made by the Hon’ble judges is an eye-opening and need to examine in introspection: “. . . MPSC has no intention to conduct any examination in a fair and just manner. It had, in the present case, miserably failed to discharge its duties and functions as mandated in the constitution of India. It would like to continue holding examinations, only in name, with a half-baked rules so that it could manipulate it. If the MPSC was/ is unable to frame an appropriate and correct rule, it could do so by taking the help from the UPSC or any other State Public Service Commission. There is no harm in doing that. Whenever an allegation is made against the MPSC towards holding of an examination by it, the readymade answer is that the rule is silent on that. . . . ”(quote-unquote). The Supreme Court on Nov.22, 2019 upheld the Manipur High Court’s order and quashed MPSC, 2006. The details are in the court’s order and now in the public domain. AMSU demanded to cancel and terminate the selected officers under MCSCCE, 2016 and punish those involved even those retired involved in those days.
These bring back MPSC atrocious 1994 marks tampering scandal; the commission faced hard times and started functioning after a long period of suspension under public pressure with three members and the Chairman. The public skepticism is again resurfaced.
It should be mandatory to shift on deputation or rotation of those officials dealing with the sensitive and confidential areas of appointment for more than two or three years as they have become more insensitive to the system and image, and identify those vulnerable dept., major discipline or profession and areas in the appointment. This exercise is not for the harassment of those working sincerely.
The need to come clean
First and foremost , the employing authority should come clean, and act transparently. Gamaliel Bailey, American Journalist, said ‘The first and worst of all frauds is to cheat oneself ’. The expression Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion holds true; means those associated with public figures must not be above suspicion of being a part of any wrongdoing or cannot do anything that would shame that public figure. It should not only act transparently, but it should appear to be clean.
It appears idealistic and of little effect to speak of controlling corruption, honesty, transparency, and accountability until deal it with firm hands, fixes the responsibility and heat where it hurts most. Apparently people don’t have any fear of the laws, consequences and the courts as they feel they can get rid of any punitive action; it is because of lack of weak actions and proceedings and allowing to perpetrate until its consequences visibly affect the society and provoke the public conscience. There are enough stringent laws including transparency act, RTI Act, 2005, to deal with such hydra-headed activities; even the office of Chief Justice of India is now under the ambit of the transparency law. The observance of the rule of law strengthens and disciplines the system.
Employment is not a commodity that can be sold for a price and to the highest bidder. The authority should be concerned, vigil and seal the weakness in the employment process with an eagle eye at every step, and blink first with the caution that anything illegal means the sword of Damocles is hanging over their heads. Shri Satyananda Mishra, a former Secretary DOPT and Chief Information Commissioner of India stated that the key to ensure good and clean governance lies in appointing the right officer.
It is high time to draw a line and ask why there is a so much trust deficit in the credibility of the appointing authorities by the educated unemployed youths and to a large extent the public. It needs to conduct employment transparently as the main guiding mantra and on merit and particularly in the areas such as sports & games, arts & culture and education where Manipuris, having potential and inborn talents can compete and outshine others at national level.
(The writer is a Retd. General Manager, Coal India Ltd)