A Division Bench of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Friday requested the single bench to hear and decide afresh petition challenging the engagement of the Mumbai-based APTECH firm by the Jammu and Kashmir administration for conducting job tests.
It set aside the single bench order cancelling the allotment of the contract to the firm and maintained its interim directions shall remain in force.
The division comprising Justice Tabi Rabistan and Justice M.A Choudhary today remitted the writ petition back to the writ court for deciding the matter afresh.
"In view of what has been discussed above, we, without discussing the merits of the case, deem it proper to dispose of the appeals and remit the writ petition back to the writ court for deciding the matter afresh", the Court observed.
"Accordingly, the order and judgment impugned is hereby set aside, the writ petition is restored to its original number and the writ petition is remitted back to the learned Single Judge with a request to decide the matter afresh. Writ respondents through their learned counsel are directed to file objections/counter to the writ petition within two weeks from today, thereafter, a rejoinder, if any, is to be filed within the next week", the Court directed.
Registry is directed to list the writ petition before the learned Single Judge on April 5, 2023, when the learned Single Judge is requested to finally decide the writ petition. Till then interim direction dated 09.12.2022 shall remain in force," read the order.
Earlier Single Bench canceled exams and quashed the contract with a black-listed company
On December 8, 2022, the J&K and Ladakh High Court has quashed the contract awarded to a previously blacklisted and tainted company by the Services Selection Board for the conduct of examinations for the posts of Junior Engineer (Civil) Jal Shakti Department and Sub-Inspector Home Department.
Moreover, the High Court has set aside and cancelled all the examinations being conducted in furtherance of the award of contract at whatever stage they are as on date and directed the Government to constitute a high-level committee headed by not less than a retired High Court Judge to enquire into the conduct of J&K Services Selection Board for their brazen irregularities/illegalities in facilitating the award of contract to a choicest company for the conduct of examinations.
The judgment was delivered by Justice Wasim Sadiq Nargal in a petition filed on behalf of the petitioners, who claim to be the aspirants, who have responded to the advertisement for various examinations to be conducted by the Jammu & Kashmir Services Selection Board (JKSSB) and the two such examinations are Junior Engineer (Civil), Jal Shakti Department and Sub Inspector (Home Department) to which all the petitioners have responded to and applied.
Petitioners prayed before Court to stop the blacklisted company to conduct exams
The petitioners prayed before the High Court that JKSSB-the recruitment agency of J&K, should not be allowed to conduct the examination through M/s Aptech Limited, blacklisted in the past, and some other agency should be selected for conduct of examinations through Computer Based Test Mode (CBTM).
According to the petitioners, prior to this, JKSSB had previously floated a tender for the empanelment of the agency for conduct of its various examinations through Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) mode, and in that one ND Info Systems Private Limited was the successful bidder but Board awarded the contract to one Merit Trac Services Pvt Ltd overlooking the fact that in pre-qualification evaluation for e-NIT No.01 of 2021, the Merit Trac Services Private Ltd clearly and in unambiguous terms mentioned itself to be a blacklisted firm.
Fraud detected in recruitments of Sub-Inspectors, Junior Engineers, and Finance Account Assitants
The Merit Track Services Pvt Ltd conducted the examinations of Junior Engineer (Civil) (Jal Shakti Department) on 20.03.2022 and Sub Inspector (Home Department) on 29.03.2022 and also Finance Account Assistant exam. The examinations conducted by Merit Track Services Pvt Ltd were compromised as papers were leaked, as a consequence of which these two examinations among others were scrapped and matter at present is being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which recently filed charge-sheets in these matters.
In fresh NIT for conduct of these examinations again, it was clearly mentioned that the agency was under an obligation to submit a declaration that it has never been blacklisted in the past by any Government or private institution of the country and there is no case pending in any investigation agency.
Since M/s Aptech Limited did not fulfill this criteria, SSB with a view to award contract in favour of the agency, issued a corrigendum No.01 dated 14.09.2022 to e-NIT No.18 of 2022 dated 05.09.2022, wherein amongst other conditions, this clause in the affidavit was changed with a view to lift the rider for company to participate in the tendering process and ultimately contract was awarded in its favour.
It was specifically pleaded by the petitioners that M/s Aptech Limited has already been involved in various malpractices and irregularities and has been blacklisted by the UP Power Corporation Limited (UPPCL). The company was also involved in malpractices in Rajasthan Police Constable Recruitment Exam which was cancelled later on. Even Delhi High Court has also imposed a penalty of Rs 10 lakh on this company for their malpractices.