The Bombay High Court has refused to grant pre-arrest bail to the director of Manipal Technologies Limited in an alleged scam in the recruitment examination for the Department of Post and Telecommunications (DoP). The court said that the company had breached the trust put in it by the state government and had shown nepotism and partiality in selecting candidates.
A case was registered with the MRA Marg Police Station Mumbai for offences including cheating and forgery. Investigation is now pending with the Economic Offences Wing (EOW), General Cheating-1 of the Mumbai Police.
The director Perdoor Vaman Mallya’s lawyer had argued that no state agency had any complaint about the work that had been entrusted to the company. Senior counsel Ashok Mundargi further argued that some irregularities being blamed on Manipal Technologies Limited were allegedly committed by either the middle or lower level managements or by Chanakya Software Services. Chankya was the firm entrusted with booking the exam centres, training and appointing supervisors for conducting the examination.
A total of 2,434 posts were required to be filled in the DoP. The posts included postman and multi-task servant.
“The case in hand appears to be a case of a big scam in recruitment in the DoP. The accused is the director of the company to which the job was entrusted. Though it is argued that the work of actually conducting the examination was entrusted to Chanakya Software Services, the same was not permissible under the contract, and even otherwise, as per pleadings in the application, it is seen that what was entrusted to Chanakya Software Services was merely conducting the examination at all centres,” observed Justice A M Badar.
“It is seen from the FIR that illegalities are committed not only during the recruitment process but even prior to recruitment test and since inception i.e. since receipt of online application forms. As such, the accused cannot shift the responsibility to the subcontractor or to the middle level or lower level management,” the court pointed out.
Taking into consideration the nature of offence, its repercussions as well as the interest of society and gross violation of fundamental rights, Justice Badar held that “the case in hand is not a fit case for grant of pre-arrest bail”.
The assistant public prosecutor had opposed the application by contending that the intention to manipulate the recruitment examination by the accused, who is a Power of Attorney holder, apart from being the director of the company, is writ large from the fact that the work of actually conducting the examination was entrusted to Chanakya Software Services. Under the agreement, the company was not entitled to appoint an agent for conducting the recruitment examination. The contract was executed in January 2015.
The eligible candidates were required to appear for examination in four subjects — general knowledge, mathematics, English and the regional language. Several inconsistencies were discovered, leading to the Chief Post Master General to ask for a vigilance inquiry into the matter.
“The vigilance inquiry further reveals that of 153 selected candidates for the post of postman, 26 candidates are from outside Maharashtra state. They do not have Marathi as their mother tongue nor had they taken education in Marathi language. Still, they secured more than 80 per cent marks in Marathi language. Of 137 selected candidates, email-IDs of 48 candidates were found to be identical,” said the court.
“The procedure of public employment in the sovereign, socialist, secular and democratic republic of India has been set down in the Constitution of India… The appointment to any post under the state can be made only after proper advertisement, inviting applications from eligible candidates and holding selection process by an impartial body of experts. This job was entrusted by DoP with utmost trust on the company…Prima facie, it is seen that, the company has breached the trust reposed by it and had shown nepotism and partiality in selecting the candidates for obvious reasons,” said Badar.
Meanwhile, Sagar Mukhopadhyay, Vice President (Corporate Affairs), The Manipal Group, said, “P V Mallya is a non-executive director of our company, who is not involved in any day-to-day matter or business of the company. Therefore, we had approached the High Court for anticipatory bail for Mr Mallya, which has unfortunately not been considered by the court.” He added that the co-functionaries who have been involved in the project are cooperating with the investigating officers to the fullest extent.