close
Advertisement
Can't connect right now! retry

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!
October 21, 2020

A question mark over FPSC marking

Top Story

October 21, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Anila Moin was among the government servants who appeared for the Section Officer Promotional Examination (SOPE). Anila scored the highest marks in the written exam conducted by the Federal Public Service Commission but failed in the interview, which is unprecedented even in the CSS exam.

Another candidate, who scored the lowest passing marks in the written examination, was passed in the interview.

The criterion is a mystery. However, it is certain that unprecedented discretion was exercised by the interview board. There were 478 candidates who appeared for the test. As many as 74 candidates passed the written test but only 19 could qualify for interview against 53 vacant posts.

The scribe spoke to an FPSC member to ask if there was any example where a topper in a written exam couldn’t make it in an interview test, his answer was in the negative. When further pressed how come so many passed candidates failed in the interview, he didn’t know as he wasn’t part of the interview board.

Record number of candidates (74.32%) was disqualified in the interview. Of 10 toppers in written tests, only two candidates could pass. For SOPE, eligible candidates must be federal government servants working in BS-11 to BS-16 and have an eight-year job experience. The passing criterion for them is even stricter than those for CSS candidates who are awarded superior jobs. They are required to acquire 50 per cent marks in the interview in contrast with the CSS candidates who need 33 per cent marks, a discrimination which has left many SOPE candidates unsettled.

Nevertheless, the passing rate of SOPE candidates was not as low as had in the last exam. Among the failed candidates were talented individuals who in the past qualified even for the CSS written exam. Asif Ali Shah, for example, is an Inspector in Motorway Police. He qualified twice in written tests of each exam: CSS, Provincial Management Service and SOPE. But every time, he either failed in the interview or couldn’t secure allocation. The situation was not different this time, to his hard luck.

Muhammad Zubair, presently serving on a non-gazetted position in Military Land and Cantonment, had also passed the CSS interview but failed to secure allocation. This time, he failed even in the interview.

Another inspector of Motorway Police Qamar Husnain is the author of a CSS guidebook on the US history. He was among the top 10 candidates in SOPE this time but failed in the interview.

A member of FPSC though defended the integrity of his colleagues on the interview board but didn’t have plausible reasons to suggest the cause of mass-scale failing of candidates. Background interviews with FPSC officials suggest that interview marks are purely at the discretion of board members and their judgement can’t be challenged anywhere. Some failed candidates went to file applications for the review of their results but efforts in this respect couldn’t help them get justice. Review is taken up by FPSC members and they can offer remedy if there is any legal issue but can’t help if the complaint is related to interview marks, said an official.

FPSC Chairman Haseeb Athar is otherwise a well-meaning person known for his integrity but the affected officials say that one’s intention can’t be the sole criterion to judge somebody’s credentials, especially when careers of so many individuals are at risk.

“Path to hell is paved with good intentions,” commented one official who failed in the interview. Their grievances appear legitimate when the result is compared with the result of the previous two exams held in 2012 and 2016. Out of 149 candidates, who qualified the written test in 2012, 148 were declared successful in the interview. In the 2016 SOPE exam, all those qualified the written test were passed in the interview. The situation was not different in the CSS exam held in 2016, 2017 and 2018. As many as three candidates failed in the interview in 2016 and two each in the subsequent years.

In September this year, the affected SOPE candidates wrote to Prime Minister Imran Khan highlighting the issue and demanding the redressal. “Such a large-scale unprecedented rejection in a promotional exam has resulted in the shortage of experienced and qualified Section Officers in the Federal Secretariat.

A large number of posts of Section Officers were already laying vacant in the Federal Secretariat. Re-filling these posts will take 2-3 years at the current pace of FPSC,” read the letter. “It is humbly requested, the letter goes on, to your good self to kindly take notice of grave injustice, discrimination, and unfair act of the Federal Public Service Commission and administrative directions may please be given to the FPSC to re-consider decision regarding our rejection in viva in SOPE 2017 and declare us qualified for the SOPE 2017 against 53 advertised vacancies of promotion quota, as early as possible.”