The Allahabad High Court on Thursday rebuked a principal secretary of the Uttar Pradesh government and its counsel for their failure to explain the reason behind lowering the minimum qualifying marks in the ongoing recruitment of assistant teachers in the state.
Exasperated with the officials' failure in satisfying its queries, a Lucknow bench of the high court ordered that the ongoing recruitment of 68,500 assistant teachers as per the original, higher qualifying marks set for the selection would be subject to the outcome of the appeals before it.
The bench of justices Shabihul Hasnain and Rajan Roy was hearing a bunch of appeals against a single-judge bench order which had on July 24 this year quashed the government's decision to lower the minimum qualifying marks for the appointment of teachers.
After originally fixing higher qualifying marks for the recruitment, the state government had lowered them on May 21, while the single-judge bench had stayed this decision.
It was during the hearing of appeals against this order by another group of petitioners, including one Avinash Kumar that the division bench gave vent to its ire for the official's failure to explain the reasons behind lowering the qualifying marks.
The bench expressed surprise that both the officer and the counsel were unable to explain the state's action.
While hearing the appeals, the bench had demanded the explanation from the state counsel, but on his failure to do so, it had summoned Principal Secretary (Basic Education) Prabhat Kumar on Tuesday to satisfy the court's query.
But Mr Kumar replied that he did not know why the marks were lowered.
"It is a strange answer from a principal secretary of the department," said an exasperated bench.
On being asked further if he had brought the records or seen them, the officer again replied in negative, saying the counsel never told him to so.
Apparently at its wits' end, the bench observed, "It was clearly mentioned in the August 27 order that the principal secretary was being summoned because the state counsel had no clear instructions.
"It was also clearly mentioned that the principal secretary would bring the records too so that the court could see the reason for lowering the minimum qualifying marks," the judge pointed out.
"However, it is very strange that neither the state counsel has seen the record nor the principal secretary is aware about the same," the bench noted in its order.