HC stays appointment of 69,000 UP govt teachers

Lucknow, Jun 3 (PTI) The Allahabad High Court Wednesday stayed the appointment of 69,000 assistant basic teachers in Uttar Pradesh, holding that there has been an 'error' in the evaluation of question paper.

The Lucknow bench of the high court fixed the next hearing on July 12.

Justice Alok Mathur’s order comes days after the Supreme Court sought the UP government's reply on pleas challenging the high court verdict, which had upheld the state’s decision to keep higher cut-off marks for these appointments. Justice Mathur passed the interim order after hearing 31 writ petitions moved by hundreds of unsuccessful candidates individually.

“The notification issued on May 8, 2020, whereby the final answer key has been issued is hereby stayed, and all proceedings pursuant to same are also stayed till the next date of listing,' the court said.

Pronouncing the order reserved on June 1, the court said, “In the present case, the court has examined certain questions and is of the considered opinion that there has been a material error in evaluation of question paper due to which a large number of candidates are liable to suffer for no fault of theirs.” The high court declined the argument of Advocate General Raghvendra Singh that though some questions may be argumentative having more than one correct answer, even then the court need not interfere in the issue in as much as the presumption should go in favour of the examining authority.

“Once it is clear that there could be more than one correct answer in an objective type question where several options have been provided by the examining authority, the candidate is required to select only one correct answer, then it is incumbent, necessary and mandatory that in-fact there should only be one correct answer which could be selected by the candidate, otherwise, he would be liable for additional marks for the negligence of the examining authority and he need not be made to suffer,” the court said.

Arguing on behalf of the petitioners, senior advocates LP Mishra, HGS Parihar and Sudeep Seth demonstrated as many as five questions and answers, which the court prima facie found either ambiguous, wrong or different from earlier examinations.

“Since the cut-off for general and OBC candidates was 65 per cent and 60 per cent for SC/ST and many petitioners did not succeed for one, two or three marks, if reevaluation was conducted, the petitioners could get within the cut-off,” argued the lawyers.

Holding that prima facie the petitioners had succeeded in making a case for the interim relief, the court referred the provisional answer key along with the objections to experts to be appointed by the Secretary, University Grants Commission (UGC), New Delhi.

The court directed the UP Examination Regulatory Authority to send the question paper and the provisional answer key, along with the objections received from the candidates, to the UGC Secretary within 10 days.

On receipt of the papers by the Secretary, the UGC shall proceed to appoint a panel of experts within one week, from amongst persons who have adequate knowledge in the subjects in relation to which opinion has been sought.

“The experts are required to give their opinion within a period of two weeks from the date of receipt of the papers and, therefore, the Secretary, University Grants Commission, New Delhi, is directed to submit the expert opinion to the Examination Regulatory Authority of Uttar Pradesh who shall bring the same on record by filing an affidavit before this court on July 12,” the bench said.

Earlier, the Supreme Court on May 21 had asked the state government to explain the process adopted for the appointment through a chart, posting the matter for further hearing on July 6.

It asked the Uttar Pradesh government to explain why it changed the earlier criteria of 45 per cent cut-off marks for the general category and 40 per cent for the reserved category. PTI CORR SMI ASH RDK RDK