Following widespread criticism of the “differential treatment” in its district-wise cutoff announced for the probationary officer (PO) recruitment examination, J&K Bank on Monday announced a uniform cutoff of 40 marks across the state.
In a notification, the bank stated that the Mains examination, earlier scheduled for May 20, will be held on June 17 “in view of representations by various preliminary exam qualifiers that their university Degree exams are scheduled on May 20”.
The revision came following J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik’s intervention.
With protests reported from various parts of Jammu region, where candidates with higher marks had been left out as per the bank’s notification, and the issue threatening to snowball into a major crisis after the BJP, its youth wing BJYM, and the IkkJutt Jammu outfit jumped in the fray and called it another instance of “regional discrimination”, Malik asked the bank to revisit its decision. The revised cutoff now has left candidates in the Valley angry, with many people criticising an independent institution for “buckling under pressure” from the BJP.
In multiple tweets on Monday morning, J&K Bank chairman Parvez Ahmed stated: “Good news for P.O. aspirants. In view of the various representations received from candidates & also the directions from the Hon’ble Governor, Bank has decided to declare a uniform cut off of 40 in relaxation of policy. All those candidates having assessment score of 40 and above shall be eligible to write the mains. Good luck aspirants. Stay tuned for rescheduled date after arranging logistics.”
In October 2018, J&K Bank had advertised for 250 vacancies of POs and a three-phase recruitment process. According to the bank’s notification, an initial preliminary examination is to be followed by the mains, and finally the interview round.
Last week, J&K Bank declared the result of preliminary exams and fixed district-wise cutoff marks to shortlist candidates eligible for the mains, initially scheduled for May 20. The pruned list put 63 marks as the cutoff for the shortlisted candidates from Jammu district, followed by Udhampur (57 marks), Kathua and Samba (56 each). Candidates from Rajouri and various districts of Kashmir region were given the lowest cutoff, ranging between 40 and 42 marks. This led to protests by different parties. “How can the bank fix district-wise cutoff marks for shortlisting candidates to state-level posts,” asked BJP spokesperson Brigadier Anil Gupta (Retd). IkkJutt chairman Ankur Sharma accused J&K Bank of ignoring merit and demanded termination of its chairman.
A J&K Bank official said on the condition of anonymity that they have practised this policy of district-wise cutoff for many years. This was done in view of difficulties faced by the bank management in getting selected candidates of one district go and work at a branch in another district, especially in areas such as Pir Panjal, Chenab Valley and Kashmir province.
While the J&K Bank chairman’s cellphone was found to have been switched off, a senior official said this time the bank had to make its selection list public in order to ensure transparency as part of the policy of the administration under the Governor.