JYOTSNA REWAL DUA,J. -
(1.)Alleging various illegalities and irregularities in the selection process conducted by the respondents for filling up 1195 posts of Patwaris pursuant to the Advertisement dated 06.09.2019, the instant writ petition has been preferred, primarily seeking quashing of the advertisement as well as the entire selection process with further prayer for directing respondents-State to conduct fresh selection process for the posts in question.
(2.)Following illegalities/irregularities in the recruitment process in question have been pointed out in the writ petition and canvassed by learned counsel for the petitioners, who remained unsuccessful in the recruitment process:-
(i) The State could not have bypassed H.P. Staff Selection Commission, Hamirpur and asked respondent No.2, i.e. Director Land Records, Himachal Pradesh, to initiate and hold the recruitment process for the posts in question;
(ii) Respondent No.2 did not constitute any Selection Committee much less a Committee of Experts for selection of the candidates;
(iii) Respondent No.2 had got prepared the question paper for the 'Patwar Examination-2019', in which, about 45 out of total 100 questions, were copy paste product from previously conducted JBT entrance examinations, which resulted in giving leverage to the candidates who had previously appeared in the JBT tests;
(iv) Wrong Examination Center was allocated to many candidates resulting in their missing the exam. A specific example of Examination Center at Government Senior Secondary School (GSSS), Arla r (Palampur), District Kangra, has been quoted, alleging that this center did not exist;
(v) A specific instance of one Roll No.414070 having been issued to two candidates has been cited;
(vi) Candidates at one examination center by the name of Adhunik Public School, Sidhwari (Dharamshala), were given answer-sheets with delay of about 30 minutes. However, no extra time was given to these candidates for completing their answer-sheets; &
(vii) Instances of hooliganism at Examination Center, Dheera (Palampur), District Kangra, have been alleged;
(3.)Reply to the writ petition has been filed by the respondents-State, on the strength of which, it has been submitted by learned Advocate General that:-
(i) Rule 15-A 1(b) of the Recruitment and Promotion Rules for the posts in question, takes the recruitment process for the r posts of Patwaris outside the purview of H.P. Staff Selection Commission.
Respondent No.2, Director Land Records, is the Competent Authority to initiate the recruitment process as well as to conduct the test for the posts in question.
Previously also, respondent No.2 had been conducting the tests and holding the recruitment process for the posts of Patwaris;
(ii) Pursuant to the approval of State Government, conveyed vide its letter dated 17.08.2019, the advertisement in question was issued on 06.09.2019 for filling up 933 posts of Patwaris in Mohal and 262 posts in Settlement Department.
In all, 1193 examination centers were established within the State for conducting the test. The examination was held on 17.11.2019 in a fair and transparent manner. To avoid cheating, question papers had different series as A, B, C and D. Teams of Sub Divisional r Magistrates, Tehsildars and Deputy Superintendents of Police, were deputed in each Sub Division to prevent cheating in examination centers;
(iii) Respondent No.2 had constituted a Committee on 05.10.2019 under the Chairmanship of Director Land Records for smooth conduct of recruitment process;
(iv) The question paper was set up with due diligence and as per Standard Syllabus prescribed under the Recruitment and Promotion Rules;
(v) Examination Centers were not wrongly allotted. Regarding the specific quoted instance of Center GSSS Arla (Palampur), it has been pointed out that Sixty Four candidates were allotted Examination Center at Government Senior Secondary School, Arla, under Sub Division Nagrota Bagwan, Tehsil Baroh, District Kangra.
Twenty nine candidates accordingly r appeared in this examination center. It is negligence on part of the candidates themselves who mistakenly assumed GSS, Arla, Sub Division Nagrota Bagwan, Tehsil Baroh, District Kangra as Government High School Arla (Palampur);
(vi) Inadvertent mistake in issuance of Roll No.414070 to two candidates by the same name, i.e. Rakesh Kumar s/o Sh. Hem Raj and Rakesh Kumar s/o Sh. Sidhu Ram, had been timely rectified by issuing them separate revised roll numbers.
Consequently, both the candidates appeared in the exam under their revised roll numbers;
(vii) In Examination Center Adhunik Public School, Sidhwari (Dharamshala), the exam had started and finished within the prescribed time; &
(viii) In respect of allegation of hooliganism in Examination Center at Asian Public School, Dheera, District Kangra, it has r been submitted that 275 candidates fled from the examination center and took away their OMR sheets. Regarding this, an FIR has already been lodged by the authorities concerned. However, the incident did not disturb the transparency and fairness of the recruitment process.