Before Samajwadi Party (SP) goes full throttle into the campaign for the 2017 Assembly elections, its government ruling the state will have to find its way out of several litigations that uniformly accuse it of favouring a particular caste (Yadav) and of adopting arbitrary measures while appointing people belonging to the said caste as chairpersons and members in the topmost government offices. The Akhilesh government faces a challenging task of responding to the notices served to it by the Allahabad High Court, which had recently put on a stricter tone, giving the government “one more opportunity” to file its counter-affidavits.
While the cases remain sub-judice, the government took to repair work outside the court by replacing the chairperson in at least two cases since the litigations were filed and senior SP leader Ramgopal Yadav dismissing the accusations in the media. Inside, however, it now could only do so much as justify these appointments legally. The Indian Express takes a look at the charges against the appointments of heads and members of Uttar Pradesh Public Service Commission (UPPSC), Uttar Pradesh Higher Education Services Commission (UPHESC) and Uttar Pradesh Secondary Education Services Selection Board (UPSESSB).
UPPSC- In dock: Chairman Dr Anil Yadav
The Uttar Pradesh Public Service Commission (UPPSC), which conducts nearly all the recruitment examinations for state government jobs, has been facing the storm ever since advocate Satish Kumar Singh dragged the government to court over the “politically-motivated” appointment of Dr Anil Yadav as the commission’s chairperson. One of the major accusations the government faces is that much of the formalities related to the appointment, including a background check, was sorted out in just one day — on March 31, 2013 — which, significantly, was Sunday. (Dr Yadav took charge two days later, on April 2).
The court has now fixed its attention primarily on seeking from the state government its “stand on the eight criminal cases” registered against Dr Yadav in the 1980s and 90s. Significantly, the report from the Mainpuri district administration after conducting Dr Yadav’s background check had said that “there was no adverse material against him”. The court had also asked the chairman to file a counter-affidavit, which the UPPSC did so on Thursday last week. The response claimed that while the chairman was “not connected with most of these criminal cases”, he had been “exonerated in the remaining ones”.
Dr Yadav, who was first appointed by the previous SP government in 2006, served as a member of the commission for six years until the present government re-appointed him as the commission’s chairperson in 2013, a year after the party took control of the state from the BSP. Dr Yadav has previously served as the principal of Shri Chitra Gupta Post Graduate College in Mainpuri and holds two degrees – Doctor of Science and Master of Laws.
But his appointment as the UPPSC chief, the petition alleged, was “not as per Constitutional norms”. “The government did not follow due deliberative process while checking his antecedents and character, and appointed him in a highly subjective manner,” the petitioner’s counsel, Gyanendra Srivastava, had said in the court. The UPPSC also stands accused of “functioning like any other state government department”.
“In one instance, the chairman was summoned by the state government and made to change a particular decision that the commission had taken. This establishes that the UPPSC is not functioning as an independent body even though it is headed by a Constitutional authority,” Srivastava had said.
Additionally, the court has asked the state government “to place on record the guidelines and parameters (for appointments related to the Public Service Commission)”. So far, the UPPSC and the state government have relied largely on Dr Yadav’s “good track record” and the fact that “since the Governor has approved his appointment, due deliberative process was inherent”. But the division bench of Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice Yashwant Varma made it clear during the hearing on Thursday that these contentions would not prove enough.
UPHESC- In dock: former acting chairman Ramvir Singh Yadav; members Rudal Yadav and A K Singh
The Uttar Pradesh Higher Education Services Commission (UPHESC), which is tasked with the recruitment and appointment of teachers and principals for degree colleges, came under scrutiny over the appointment of former member-cum-officiating chairman Ramvir Singh Yadav, and two members, Rudal Yadav and A K Singh. The UP Act No 16 of 1980 lays down eligibility criteria for the appointments related to UPHESC. On May 28, 2004, an amendment — under Section (4) (2) (e) ‘for Chairman’, and Section (4) (2-A) (g) ‘for Members’ — was inserted. As per the new clause, the government could appoint anyone so long as he/she “is in the opinion of the State Government an eminent person having made valuable contribution in the field of education”.
The two PILs being heard by the court broadly allege that the government has “misused” the new clause ever since its inclusion. “Barring one, at least 20-odd members since the amendment have been chosen under the new clause. While none of them have had any record to show “eminence”, in one case, the person had criminal cases registered against him,” counsel for the petitioners in both cases, Alok Mishra, had told the court.
The court has noted: “The affidavit (filed by the commission’s director) does not disclose as to what was the valuable contribution made by all the three members (lecturers, in this case) in the field of education”. Saying that it would have to examine “the intent and purpose of the (new) clause”, the court added: “For a person to satisfy clause (g), there must be some tangible material, which could reflect the valuable contribution…It cannot be a subjective satisfaction of the state authorities”.
Although the government replaced Ramvir Yadav with Dr Lal Bihari Pandey on July 20 (after the petitions were filed), he continues to be a ‘senior member’ in the commission. Ramvir had failed to qualify for the post of principal of a post-graduate degree college after appearing before the UPHESC in 2008 but went on to become its officiating chairman in 2013.
UPSESSB- In dock: Acting chairperson Anita Yadav; members Ashalata Singh and Lalit Srivastava
The case involving Uttar Pradesh Secondary Education Services Selection Board (UPSESSB), which looks after the selection and appointment of teachers and principals for inter-colleges, is woefully similar to that of UPHESC. Here, too, the appointments of acting chairperson Anita Yadav, and members Ashalata Singh and Lalit Srivastava, through an amended section of the UP Act No 5 of 1982, has been challenged by petitioner Abhilasha Mishra, who had applied for the post of principal of an inter-college. She contended that since none of them were even eligible for the post of principal, their appointment in the selection board raised serious questions.
On the other hand, with the introduction of the said amendment – Section 4-3-c-iv of the Act, modified in 2008 – all anyone needed to become a member of the board was a graduate degree and an “interest in the field of education”, the state has submitted before the court.
Anita Yadav, claiming to be a double MA, was only an LT Grade teacher at an inter-college and has never appeared before the UPSESSB for any appointment-related process. Ashalata, a lecturer, was simply appointed by a private college’s management committee, while Lalit was a clerk in the office of the District Inspector of Schools before being appointed as a member of the UPSESSB.
After the high court restrained them from discharging their duties, the government replaced Anita Yadav with Sanil Kumar, but all three of them continue to be members of the selection board.