Rashid Paul

HC dismisses petition challenging cancelation of selection process in J&K Bank

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“By framing district-wise merit list, the conception of one unit policy has been flouted with impunity by the Bank”

Srinagar: The J&K High Court on Monday dismissed a petition that challenged the cancellation of the process of selection for 1850 posts of probationary officers and banking associates by J&K Bank and subsequently advertising the posts a fresh.

Thousands of candidates had offered their candidature for the posts sought to be filled up by the Bank in terms of a notification on 6th of October 2018 and afterward participated in the selection process.

Before the selection list could be issued the Bank had issued a notice on 15th of April 2020 cancelling the whole selection process.

Subsequently a fresh advertisement notice was issued on 1st of June 2020 by the Bank inviting applications from the desirous candidates for the said posts.

Aggrieved of the notice cancelling the selection process and issuing a fresh advertisement notice the candidates filed a writ petition in the High Court seeking quashment of the two notices.

They petitioned that no reasons were disclosed by the Bank while issuing the notice cancelling the selection process. The failure of respondents to give reasons in support of its decision amounts to denial of justice, they said.

They further said that the agency which conducted the examination under the 2018 (earlier) notification has a reputed track record therefore, the cancellation of the process does not appear to be bonafide adding “the decision of cancelling the selection process is arbitrary and illegal deserving to be declared as ultra-vires of the constitution”.

“A limited right of fair consideration is available to a candidate who participates in the selection process which cannot be taken away by arbitrary means and unreasonably. The decision to cancel the selection process is not backed by any cogent material”, their petition read.

It said “the Bank has got swayed by the direction issued by its governors which was issued absolutely without any basis or with the support of cogent material, therefore, the decision is irrational and unfair” adding the law does not permit the authority to exercise power in an arbitrary manner.

The respondent bank and its governors including the State Administrative Council headed by the then state governor argued “it is a settled position of law that merely by participating in the recruitment process the candidates do not possess a vested right to get appointed to the advertised post”.

They said “selection criteria (uniform assessment score of 40% across all districts) for the post of Probationary Officers was changed mid course, which was bad in law and not consistent with the recruitment policy of the Bank”.

Their further argument was “post re-organization of erstwhile State was converted into two Union Territories which affected the permanent residency concept in the matter of recruitment in question, therefore, the continuance of the process was not consistent with legal framework”.

They said “the Bank followed the process of recruitment which was based on district-wise requirements which arrangement, reportedly, was not a part of the recruitment policy of the Bank earlier but it was changed on 27.12.2018 and the provision of selection on District-Division-wise merit as per the decision of the Chairman/CEO of the Bank was incorporated in the policy”.

The court observed that no reservation was prescribed for RBAs/OSCs in the recruitment process in question which is violative of the reservation Rules.

After hearing the parties Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey held “the petitions are without any merit, therefore, dismissed along with all CM(s)”.

Vacating the interim direction in the matter he directed the respondents to proceed ahead with the fresh selection process initiated in terms of the June 2020 advertisement notice.

He said the Bank had gone wrong when it construed the district-wise requirement for the posts adding “by framing district-wise merit list, the conception of one unit policy has been flouted with impunity by the Bank in the said recruitment process”.

This irregularity according to the court might have had the scope of correction but the respondent Bank had gone further wrong in not offering reservation in the whole process which certainly was incurable.

It said since the selection process had not been completed, the petitioners have no right to dispute the decision of the respondents to go for a denovo exercise.

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