Engagement of Aptech: HC’s division bench requests single bench to hear case afresh
Srinagar: A division bench of the Jammu & Kashmir High Court on Friday asked the writ court to hear and decide afresh petition challenging engagement of Mumbai-based APTECH Limited by Jammu & Kashmir administration for conducting job tests.
It set aside the writ court’s order cancelling allotment of contract to the firm, and maintained its interim directions shall remain in force.
The High Court had on December 07, 2022, directed the Union Territory administration to constitute a high-level committee to enquire into the conduct of J&K Service Selection Board (SSB) for what it called the brazen irregularities in changing the terms of a tender to award contract to M/S Aptech Limited (a previously blacklisted agency) for conducting examinations to various posts in J&K.
The court had said: “The functioning of SSB does not inspire confidence in holding public examinations. It has become incumbent on all stakeholders to review the functioning of the Board.”
The court was hearing a writ petition by some job aspirants who responded to the advertisement for various examinations to be conducted by the Board.
Two such examinations are Junior Engineer (Civil), Jal Shakti Department, and Sub-Inspector (Home Department).
A division bench of the High Court had subsequently on 9th of December stayed the single bench’s judgment after an appeal by the JKSSB.
It had further ordered the appellant (JKSSB) to proceed with the selection process with a rider “the result of the same shall await further orders from this court”.
SSB and the M/S Aptech Ltd. appealed against the December 07, 2022 judgment with a preliminary ground that the single judge on the very first date of hearing proceeded to decide the writ petition finally without granting any opportunity to the appellants to file objections to the writ petition.
They argued that they were under the impression that the arguments were being heard for the purposes of deciding the application for interim relief, as the appellants were appearing before the writ court in the capacity of caveators.
Disposing of the appeal, a division bench comprising Justices Tashi Rabstan and M A Chowdhary today without discussing the merits of the case, remitted the writ petition back to the writ court for deciding the matter afresh.
Accordingly, the 7th December order and judgment impugned by Justice Wasim Sadiq Nargal was set aside by the division bench.
The writ petition has been restored to its original number and the writ petition remitted back to the single judge bench to decide the matter afresh.
Writ respondents through their counsel have been directed to file objections/counter to the writ petition within two weeks from today, thereafter, rejoinder, if any, has to be filed within next one week.
The court directed the Registry to list the writ petition before the single judge on 5th of April, 2023. Till then interim direction of December 09, 2022 shall remain in force.