Kashmir Recruitment Exams Cancelled By Court Over "Brazen Irregularities"

This is the second time in the last six months that recruitment exams for the posts of police sub-inspectors and junior engineers have been cancelled following allegations of corruption.

Kashmir Recruitment Exams Cancelled By Court Over 'Brazen Irregularities'

The agency is already under the scanner after allegations of malpractice in exams. (Representational)

Srinagar:

The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has cancelled recruitment exams of police sub-inspectors and junior engineers for awarding the contract to conduct exams to a blacklisted agency.

This is the second time in the last six months that recruitment exams for the posts of police sub-inspectors and junior engineers have been cancelled following allegations of corruption and malpractice.

The decision has affected more than one lakh candidates who are appearing for the exams conducted by J&K Service Selection Board (JKSSB).

The JKSSB is already under the scanner and facing multiple investigations by the CBI after allegations of malpractice in recruitment exams.

Recruitment exams for Police, Junior engineers and Financial Account assistants were cancelled in July following protests over paper leaks and malpractices.

The CBI has arrested over a dozen accused including a commandant of the Border Security Force for their alleged involvement in the police sub-inspector recruitment scam.

According to CBI investigations, Police sub-inspector posts were sold for Rs 20 to 30 lakh during police recruitment exams.

1200 candidates were selected for the post of police sub-inspectors; 1300 as junior engineers and about 1000 as Finance Account Assistants. The selection lists were scrapped after massive protests by aggrieved candidates in Jammu and Kashmir.

Over the last two years, recruitment in government departments has suffered a huge jolt in Jammu and Kashmir as one after another recruitment process has come under the scanner for alleged malpractices and corruption.

After the cancellation of recruitment lists, The Jammu and Kashmir Lt Governor, Manoj Sinha, announced fresh exams and promised a transparent and fair recruitment process.

But soon after the fresh exams started, the court order is a huge indictment of the LG administration and a setback for thousands of job aspirants.

A petition filed by some job aspirants challenged the decision of awarding the contract to an agency that was blacklisted and accused of corruption and manipulation of recruitment exams.

The court said that the decision to award the contract to M/s Aptech Limited) is malafide and the change of condition in the tender was intended to favour the private agency.

The High court has directed the government to constitute a panel headed by a retired High Court judge to probe the conduct JKSSB for "brazen irregularities/ illegalities in changing the terms/conditions of the tender and award contract to an agency which has previously facilitated malpractices in public examinations.

The court said "appropriate action should be initiated against those found guilty"

The High Court said the functioning of Jammu and Kashmir Service Selection Board does not inspire confidence in holding public examinations. It has become incumbent on all stake holders to review the functioning of the Board.

The court said the agency M/s Aptech Limited, given contract to conduct exams was blacklisted for its involvement in malpractices in recruitment exams in power department in Uttar Pradesh; police recruitment in Rajasthan and Irrigation department in Assam. The Delhi High Court has also imposed a penalty of Rs 10 lakh on the controversial agency for alleged malpractices.

"I completely agree with a view taken by Delhi High Court in a case titled M/s Aptech Limited, supra that organizations resorting to, or permitting malpractice at an institutional level should be kept at bay," reads the judgment by Justice Waseem Nargal.

"In the present case, a blacklisted agency has been allowed to compete in the tendering process and the commercial interest has outweighed the public interest," the court said.

The court asked the Jammu and Kashmir administration, "What was the larger public interest in altering the terms and conditions of the NIT issued by respondent No.1 (JKSSB). Respondent No.2 ( M/S Aptech Limited) has already been involved in various malpractices and irregularities and was blacklisted"

In June, thousands of job aspirants held massive protests in Jammu alleging brazen manipulation of merit list in police sub-inspector exams. Subsequently, other exams also came under scanner forcing the government to cancel the selection lists and order a CBI probe.

This was the first major recruitment process in government after Jammu and Kashmir was stripped of its statehood and special status in 2019.

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