Ranchi, June 14: Jharkhand High Court today stalled the appointment of 147 government officials chosen by Jharkhand Public Services Commission (JPSC) in 2007 and asked the CBI to take over investigations into the controversial selection process.
Expressing anguish and dissatisfaction on the working of JPSC with regard to conduct of the second civil services examinations of 2007, a division bench of Justices R.K. Merathia and D.N. Upadhaya directed all the 147 officials, of deputy collector and DSP rank, not to draw their salaries until the CBI completed its probe.
Today's order could have a bearing on tomorrow's counting for the June 12 Hatia bypoll as seven government officials, who were in the team of magistrates involved in the election process, were chosen by the JPSC in 2007.
But, deputy commissioner K.K. Soan discounted that possibility, saying they weren't directly associated with the counting. "Moreover, the administration has not been officially communicated (about the court order) in this regard," he added.
The court, which also ordered the vigilance bureau to hand over to the CBI all relevant files on the conduct of the 2007 examinations, has spared the sole handicapped candidate, Ranju Kumari, allowing him to work till further orders.
JPSC chairman Dilip Prasad and two former members Shanti Devi and Gopal Singh are behind bars after former Governor M..H. Farooq, on June 9, 2009, asked vigilance bureau to lodge FIRs against them and a third member, Radha Govind Nagesh, on charges of grave irregularities, forgery, interpolation and fraud related to the second civil services examinations of 2007-08.
Today's order was based on a PIL filed by one Budh Deo Oraon demanding that the 2007 JPSC selection process be scrapped as several candidates were favoured by virtue of their relationship with politicians and other VIPs.
As many as 46,700 candidates appeared in the preliminary exams of which 12,300 were selected for written exams. Finally, 172 candidates were declared successful. Of them, five chose not to appear, while another 19 were terminated from service for tampering with their answer sheets and using unfair means to pass the exams.
In fact, JPSC secretary, in a letter dated November 30, 2009, had told the chairman that documents and papers related to the examinations weren't sealed inside a strong room but lay scattered in cartons.
Then Governor Syed Sibtey Razi ordered a vigilance probe after which police officers scrutinised 37 answer scripts of selected candidates at random. They discovered 19 papers belonging to candidates who had adopted questionable means and were all related to the high and mighty.
Their selection was terminated. But, they moved the high court before a single judge bench which ordered their reinstatement on grounds of violation of natural justice.
The order of reinstatement was challenged by the state government in various appeals which were also disposed of today.
In his order running into 23 pages, Justice Merathia observed, "Prima facie JPSC is a constitutional body and it has failed to discharge its duty in conducting the selection process. … fraud and justice never dwell together."
Citing the example of JPSC member Gopal Prasad Singh, the bench said that his son Kundan Kumar Singh, daughter-in-law Jugnu Singh, brothers Shankar Singh and Tripurari Singh, and one brother-in-law had been appointed lecturers.
Others, also Singh's brothers-in-law Uday Kumar Singh and Sanjay Kumar, had been gifted prime jobs through the JPSC.
"There is no bar in taking part in a selection process by near and dear ones of influential persons and getting selected on merit, but it is not possible to swallow that only these candidates will be meritorious while others can't clear the exams," the court observed.
The court has left it open for the CBI to register individual cases or one composite case. The next hearing has been scheduled for November 5 when the CBI's report in its investigations would be taken up.