The Supreme Court of India has upheld a verdict by High Court of J&K and Ladakh on March 10 by virtue of which it had remitted to its single bench a case involving appointment of a “tainted” agency by JKSSB to conduct various examinations.
However, a division bench of the high court had ordered that the stay ordered by it on December 9 last year shall continue till April 5 when “learned Single Judge (has been) requested to finally decide the petition.”
“Having heard learned counsel for the petitioner at a considerable length and after carefully perusing the material available on record, we do not find any error in the impugned Order dated 10-3-2023 passed by the High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh at Jammu, in remanding the case to the learned Single Judge,” a division bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justices Surya Kant and J.K. Maheshwari said and dismissed Special Leave Petitions filed against the High court’s March 10 order. “However, having regard to the nature of relief and the issues involved in the matter, we request the learned Single Judge to decide the Writ Petition afresh expeditiously and preferably within a period four months from the date of receipt of a copy of this order,” the division bench of the Apex Court said.
On December 9, the Division Bench had stayed the operation of judgment passed by the single judge a day earlier by virtue of which Computer Based Test (CBT) for Junior Engineer-civil (Jal Shakti Department) and Sub Inspector (Home Department) held by Jammu and Kashmir Service Selection Board (JKSSB) through M/s Aptech Limited was cancelled.
The single bench of the court on December 8 had also directed the government to constitute a high level Committee headed by a retired High Court Judge to enquire into the conduct of JKSSB for “brazen irregularities/illegalities” in appointing a “blacklisted” agency for conducting various examinations.
According to the grievance projected in the writ petition, the JKSSB “overlooked big scam” and issued fresh tender and after “manipulating certain conditions” gave the tender to M/S Aptech Ltd., which according to the petitioners has tainted history, has already been accused of malpractices in various examinations and has also been blacklisted previously.
Fearing unfair recruitment process, the writ petitioners first approached JKSSB by filing a representation on 4 November 2022 but all in vain and according to them the same forced them to file petition, seeking to quash e-tender Notice No.19 of 2022 dated 30 September 2022 for conduct of various examinations through Computer Based Test mode in favour of M/s Aptech Ltd.
The single judge of the court after hearing counsel appearing for the parties cancelled the entire process and directed the government to constitute a high level Committee headed by a retired High Court Judge to enquire into the conduct of JKSSB for “brazen irregularities/illegalities” in appointing a “blacklisted” agency for conducting various examinations.
Amongst other grounds, the preliminary ground raised by government before the division bench was that the Single Judge on the very first date of hearing proceeded to decide the petition without granting any opportunity to the appellants to file objections.
After hearing the parties, a Division Bench decided not to discuss the merits of the case and deemed it proper to dispose of the appeals and remit the writ petition back to the Single Bench for deciding the matter afresh.
“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,” the court said, adding, “ Writ respondents through their learned counsel are directed to file objections/counter to the writ petition within two weeks from today, thereafter, rejoinder, if any, to be filed within next one week.”
The Division bench directed its registry to list the petition before the Single Judge on 5th of April, 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,” court added.