The Hon’ble High Court of Manipur in its penultimate judgment and order dated 18th October 2019 based on the report of an Enquiry Commission categorically stated, “It is the right time for MPSC or for that matter, its staff or officials to be penalized for their misdeeds which they have been doing for the last many years and if not penalized now, they would continue to do so in future at the cost of public interest and public money.”
This was apparently to penalize and discipline MPSC so that lapses and irregularities will not be tolerated any further. However, the lives and career of 82 officers, who had already served for two and a half years since 2017 were nipped in the bud and the penalty fell not on MPSC, but the terminated newly recruited civil servants, against whom no iota of criminality has been proven till date.
The Hon’ble Court Judgment itself acknowledged that MPSC has misused its constitutionally mandated duty in the last many years. The irony is, 20 exams have been conducted under the same “half-baked rules” and were considered acceptable by all. These include the 2012, 2013 and 2014 Civil Services Examinations, not to mention Medical Officers, MSPDCL and other gazetted posts, not just the MCSCCE 2016 examination. This raises some serious questions. Is there a hidden agenda?
That justice awaited by all stakeholders lies in the hands of the CBI enquiry report (which was to be conducted within three months as per the verdict of Hon’ble High Court 18th October 2019. Further extension of another six months has been granted with effect from 1st August 2020. However, the MPSC through its notification 14th August 2020, made it known that the it was re-conducting the cancelled mains examination, and would not be awaiting the CBI enquiry report.
Following a hue and cry, a follow up press release by MPSC dated 26th August 2020 mentioned that the top court of the country delinked CBI investigation from mains re-examination. This is a misinterpretation meant to miscarry Justice? The Hon’ble Supreme Court, simply and rightly, refused to interfere in the CBI investigation. Period. Meaning the CBI should be allowed to do its duty without any interference even by the top court. It is also a matter of record as can be referred from the said press release that MPSC has challenged the CBI enquiry in the Hon’ble Supreme Court too. Why did MPSC challenged the CBI enquiry in the first place? When is the next Court hearing?
The Press release is an attempt to hood-wink the public and civil service aspirants of the State. The very Enquiry Commission based on whose report the termination of 82 officers was affected were found to be interested parties as per court documents. That their sons and daughters had appeared in the MCSCCCE 2016 examinations and were unsuccessful, which itself is a violation of natural justice and a grave violation of the right to life and liberty of all aspirants particularly the unfortunate victims.
Accordingly, the Government of Manipur filed a Review Petition In the Hon’ble High Court of Manipur to save its innocent employees. The motion was admitted and fixed for hearing in April 2020, kept in abeyance due to COVID Pandemic. The MPSC notification and press release failed to mention that the fate of MCSCCE 2016 is still sub-judice. It is a matter of curious concern, that personal interest and inhuman audacity seem to be taken by the present Secretary, MPSC. Otherwise, an able administrator with experience of the rules and law, would understand the possible adverse implications the CBI Report when it comes out would have on the ill-fated examination.
Take the case of Assam Public Service Commission and the ‘cash for job’ scam. The guilty officials and appointees were booked by CBI while the innocents were saved. This is justice. In the Manipur case, an RTI query has found that members of the enquiry committee, on the basis of whose report the termination of the 82 news recruited officers was effected, were found to have their sons and daughters among the unsuccessful candidates. This is a matter of record and the matter is sub-judice.
It is alleged that there were some among the selected candidates who paid their way into the service. If that be so, why must they be allowed to sit in the mains re-exam at all? If the terminated officers clear the exam again, will there be another litigation? Will there be alleged defamation that this time too that they have paid their way into service again. That these terminated officers have the right to freedom of expression, equality before the law and equal protection under the law is an undisputed fundamental right. They too have the right to give re-exam free from finger pointing, name shaming and defamation for no fault of their own.
What if the re exam is scheduled and takes place, and then the CBI report is completed exonerating the 82 terminated officers and asking for their reabsorption? Will the new selected list of candidates via the re-exam be terminated and appointment set aside? There is no end to future scope of litigations as the very press release failed to mention that the matter is sub-judice for it is presently in a Court of law. The only legal complicacy that MPSC will face is to clean up the mess of MPSC-2016 mains exam and the untimely scheduling of the re-exam in the worst pandemic in a 100 years, if at all the re-exam takes place, cleaning up the mess of the new re-exam too, which will be subject to outcome of CBI enquiry and the review petition. Food for thought.
The demand to allow the ongoing CBI investigation be first allowed to reach a logical conclusion is legitmate. Once this is done allow the innocent terminated officers to sit re exam free from all defamatory stigma, or else be allowed to retain their original posts. Those foun to have benefitted from the alleged corrupt actions of the MPSC, should be debarred from the current as well as any other recruitments within the ambit of the law of the land.
That the CBI enquiry must rightly bring out erring staff and officials of MPSC itself. How can we trust the mains re-exam if it is to be conducted without any ‘cleansing’ of the house? The Secretary and Chairman, retained their posts at the whims and fancies of the politicians or till their retirement. It is this permanent guilty gang of officials within MPSC who are responsible for such a colossal mess, and they must be brought to book. They have been allowed to shift from one door to another door within MPSC with no tool of accountability. That the CBI enquiry will clear the mess, is the hope and expectation of all honest stakeholders.
It may be noted that one of 82 terminated recruits who was serving as MPS while in service, through her hard work and acumen, got the prestigious IAS. Another got through Manipur Judicial Services in the recently declared MJS recruitment. While empty vessels defamed them by referring to them as ‘Huranba 82’.
The Ultimate question:
Why is MPSC hell bent on conducting re-examination while a criminal investigation is underway? The public, on whose taxes and money, the entire gamut of governance and administration including legislative, executive and judicatory is run, deserve to know the truth of CBI investigation. Where are the monthly reports? This ought to be shared with the public.
On a lighter note:
The reason the previous civil services examinations prior to 2016 did not receive such hatred and criticism, even though conducted under the same half-baked rules can only be pin-pointed to two reasons. These earlier exams happened before: 1) Advent of Social Media in Manipur and the arrival of High Speed Internet 2) Inception of The Hon’ble High Court of Manipur
By James Thanga