Appointment of ‘tainted’ company by JKSSB | DB remits case back to single bench for fresh decision

Stay to continue on cancellation of JE, SI exams
Representational Image
Representational Image File/ GK

Srinagar, Mar 10: A Division Bench (DB) of the High Court of J&K and Ladakh on Saturday remitted to its single bench to decide afresh a case relating to appointment of a “tainted” agency by J&K Service Selection Board (JKSSB) to conduct various examinations.

However, the bench comprising Justice Tashi Rabstan and Justice M A Chowdhary observed that the stay ordered by it on December 9 last year with regard to cancellation of Junior Engineer-Civil (Jal Shakti Department) and Sub Inspector (Home Department) held by the JKSSB through M/s Aptech Limited would continue till April 5 when Single Judge would finally decide on the petition.  

In terms of its order of December 9, the DB had stayed the operation of judgment passed by the single judge by which Computer Based Test (CBT) for JE (Civil), Jal Shakti Department and SI (Home Department) held by the JKSSB through M/s Aptech Limited was cancelled. 

In its judgment passed on December 8 last year, the single judge bench had ordered probe by a high level panel to be headed by a retired High Court judge into the conduct of JKSSB for “brazen irregularities” in appointing a blacklisted agency M/s Aptech Limited, for conducting various examinations.

“It has become incumbent on all stakeholders to review the functioning of the Board,” the single bench had said and held that the process adopted and decision made by awarding contract to M/s Aptech Limited was “malafide” and change of condition in tender was intended to favour the agency.

In their plea, a number of aggrieved aspirants who responded to the advertisement notifications for various examinations to be conducted by the JKSSB including JE (Civil), Jal Shakti Department, and SI (Home Department) had sought court’s intervention for directing the JKSSB not to conduct the examination through M/s Aptech Limited being “blacklisted” in the past.

The single judge of the court after hearing counsel appearing for the parties cancelled the entire process and directed the government to constitute a high level committee headed by a retired High Court judge to enquire into the conduct of JKSSB for “brazen irregularities and illegalities” in appointing a “blacklisted” agency for conducting various examinations.

In its appeal, amongst other grounds, the preliminary ground raised by government before the division bench was that the single judge on the very first date of hearing proceeded to decide the petition without granting any opportunity to the appellants to file objections.

After hearing the parties, the DB decided not to discuss the merits of the case and deemed it proper to dispose of the appeals and remit the writ petition back to the single bench for deciding the matter afresh.

“Accordingly, the order and judgment impugned is hereby set aside, the writ petition is restored to its original number and the writ petition is remitted back to the learned Single Judge with a request to decide the matter afresh,” the DB said.

It also directed the respondents through their counsel to file objections to the writ petition within two weeks from Friday.

“Thereafter, rejoinder, if any, to be filed within next one week,” it said.

Moreover, the DB directed its registry to list the petition before the Single Judge on April 5, 2023 on which date the bench, it said, was requested to finally decide the petition.

“Till then interim direction dated December 9, 2022, will remain in force,” the court said.

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