Rashid Paul

HC quashes September 2009 select-list of drug inspectors

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Directs recruiting agency to conduct interviews afresh

Srinagar: Observing that priority has arbitrarily been given to some of the candidates by J&K Services Selection Board (SSB) in selection for 72 posts of drug inspectors in 2009, the High Court Friday quashed the entire select list and directed the agency to conduct interviews afresh.

Hearing a bunch of appeals against the SSB’s controversial selection list, Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Vinod Chatterji Koul besides passing certain advices directed “the select list published by the Board on 8th September 2009 stands quashed”.

Since the matter had been subjudice for years and the selected candidates are working against the posts, the two judge bench also pin-pointed certain loopholes in the 2015 judgment passed in favor of the selected candidates.

The court this time put the Board at liberty to constitute a Selection Committee to conduct fresh interviews of all the candidates who had appeared before “but in accordance with law for selection against the posts advertised”.

The bench made it clear that no post or vacancy which had not been advertised by the aforesaid advertisement will be filled up by the said selection process.

It directed the SSB that the fresh selections exercise “if undertaken” shall be completed within a period of six months.

To avoid any “administrative problem”, it directed “the selected candidates appointed be permitted to continue” till the fresh selection is complete.

Select-list published on September 08, 2009, recommending 64 candidates for appointment as Drug Inspectors, came to be challenged in a number of writ petitions. The court decided the petitions vide a 2015 judgment with certain observations and directions.

In relation to arbitrary manner of selection, the single judge bench said that it cannot step into shoes of the Selection Committee.

The judge found that final award roll as to performance of candidates in viva-voce and points secured on the basis of merit in eligibility, qualification and the abilities warranting extra weight was not signed by members of the Selection Committee.

The judge also found “extra weightage has been given to some of candidates who did not have post-graduate degree in Pharmacy, Medicine to their credit”.

He cited the case of candidate Pankaj Malhotra, who did not append M-Pharmacy certificate to his application. But the Selection Committee concluded that Malhotra had post-graduate degree in Pharmacy and awarded 7.7 marks to him for it.

On the other hand, one Rumaisa Mohammad was deprived of any credit for her post-graduate gegree in Pharmacy.

The judge concluded that extra weight-age has been given where it was not warranted.

He, however, directed “the selected and appointed candidates (private respondents in the case)  have been serving the department as Drug Inspectors for last seven years and there is no dispute as regards their eligibility to the advertized post”.

The official respondents, he directed “may retain private respondents and their other selected/appointed colleagues and shall accord consideration to appointment of petitioners in three writ petitions admittedly satisfying the eligibility criteria, against available clear vacancies of drug inspectors”.

The exercise was directed to be completed within four weeks.

The judge also directed “in case, the consideration to appointment of petitioners as directed is not possible, because of non-availability of the posts, the select-list published by respondent and appointment made pursuant thereto shall stand quashed and set aside”.

“The writ court could not have saved the selection of the candidates merely for the reason that they have now been serving in the department for last seven years and they are qualified to hold the post,” Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal said.

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