SHC orders commission to probe irregularities in 2003 CSS exams

February 15, 2020

The Sindh High Court on Thursday ordered the constitution of an inquiry commission to probe the illegalities committed in the appointment process for the Central Superior Service through the...

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The Sindh High Court on Thursday ordered the constitution of an inquiry commission to probe the illegalities committed in the appointment process for the Central Superior Service (CSS) through the Combined Competitive Examination in 2003.

The order came on several identical petitions that challenged the result of the Combined Competitive Examination for the year 2003.

According to the petitioners, some serious irregularities and illegalities were committed in the examination and due to sheer favouritism, blue-eyed candidates were declared successful and many successful candidates were declared failed. They submitted that the beneficiaries were appointed in violation of merit and the petitioners and other qualified individuals were denied their right to be appointed on merit.

The counsel of the private respondents argued that the petitions suffered from laches and were liable to be dismissed on this account alone. They submitted that process of the Combined Competitive Examination was started by publication in newspaper on July 27, 2003 and the final result was announced on June 27, 2004 and the successful candidates were appointed and posted in 2004. They submitted that functions of the Sindh Public Service Commission cannot be challenged by filing of writ petitions.

The SHC’s division bench, headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar, after hearing the arguments of the counsel observed that though the respondents had taken a plea that the petitions were hit by the doctrine of laches but it was also a ground reality that the entire 2003 competitive process was considered a sham and doubtful and as a result an inquiry was conducted by the SPSC.

The court observed that the inquiry report and recast results were also submitted besides the Anti-Corruption department also conducted an inquiry and a case was registered and further the NAB had also filed a reference against the persons held responsible for fraud and manoeuvring in the result process to benefit their blue-eyed persons.

The court observed that after such material produced on record, it would be in the advancement of justice and dictates of justice also demanded that some action should be taken rather than non-suiting the petitioners on the ground of laches when the SPSC itself had submitted the inquiry report and also made recommendations in the recast result.

The court observed that it was also a ground reality that those persons who were declared successful and appointed though in a non-transparent and fraudulent manner had already served a number of years since the date of the appointments and in the earlier inquires they were not provided any opportunity or right of audience to defend the inquiry and allegations.

The court observed that the government should have taken some action earlier when the complaints were lodged against the sham competitive process and the members of the SPSC themselves held that the process was not transparent.

The court observed that it was a very sorry state of affair that no action was taken to scrap the entire competitive process at relevant time and to call upon the candidates to appear in the process afresh which was the dire need to resolve the issue and to maintain the transparency, propriety and decorum which was essential for revamping and restoring the confidence of the public in order to save the sanctity and sacredness of the SPSC as an institution of well repute.

The court observed that no action was taken to culminate the matter in view of the anti-corruption inquiry report and the NAB reference was also pending against the SPSC officials and others but the Sindh government had not taken any action so far nor they endeavoured to probe whether the process was transparent or not.

The court observed that a high-powered commission should be constituted to examine and scrutinise the entire process, fix the responsibility and propose an action to the competent authority to conclude the matter at some logical end.

The court observed that credibility of any institution could not be maintained unless their officers were appointed on merits and if they were appointed on some people to favour them or on the basis of favouritism then in return they would do the same and surrender to the wishes of their masters in the appointment and selection process that would tantamount to massacring and slaying the concept and credence of criteria of merit.

The court directed the chief secretary to constitute inquiry commission comprising of three members – one senior member of the Sindh public service commission, the secretary services and the secretary law. The commission shall complete its inquiry within six months.

The court observed that inquiry commission shall take stock of illegalities committed in the appointment process of the 2003 competitive examination that how incompetent or unsuccessful candidates were appointed and deserving candidates were declared failed and the commission shall submit the comprehensive report with practicable and rational recommendations to the competent authority.

The court observed that some of the candidates who were declared failed by fraudulent means were already in the government jobs through different processes even so in a different service structure and they had also claimed that the treatment at par with those who were appointed in 2003 process on account of favouritism and nepotism.

The court observed that recommendations of the inquiry commission shall also take account of an equable pathway for those candidates if proved that they appeared in the process and passed the examination but declared failed by hook or by crook and were deprived and left out despite merit then what was the most possible venue of progression commensurate to their existing jobs for ventilation and alleviation of sufferings, injustice and long-drawn-out distress.

The court ordered that the inquiry commission shall conclude the proceedings within six months and the law secretary shall submit the report duly signed by all inquiry commission members to the provincial chief secretary.

The court observed that competent authority shall consider the recommendations and pass necessary orders within one month without any discrimination or favour or bias, and comunicate the outcome to all stakeholders. However, the court observed that no adverse action shall be taken against any person without serving show cause notice and providing a fair right of personal hearing.

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