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In interim relief, Bombay HC asks MPSC to allow 86 PSI aspirants to appear for Jan 29 exam

The petitioners’ counsel said their names did not figure in the list of successful candidates declared on Dec 3 last year, as the MPSC had deleted three questions in the preliminary exam.

Bombay High CourtBombay High Court (File Photo)

The Bombay High Court on Monday held that the Maharashtra Public Service Commission (MPSC) has to “be blamed for the situation in which it finds itself now” and granted interim relief to 86 candidates who could not succeed in the preliminary examination held on September 4 last year for recruitment of police sub-inspectors (PSI).

The court directed the MPSC to make arrangements for the 86 candidates for the next round of exams to be held on January 29 and said that the same would not create any right or equity in the petitioners’ favour in their challenge pending before the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal for final hearing.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Makarand S Karnik was hearing a plea by Somnath Jotiram Chavan and others, represented by advocate Sandeep Dere, who informed the high court that the petitioners’ names did not figure in the list of successful candidates declared on December 3 last year, as the MPSC had deleted three questions in the preliminary exam, and hence they are not eligible to participate in the further exam scheduled to be held on January 29.

Aggrieved by the results in the preliminary exams, the 86 petitioners and two others had approached the Mumbai bench of the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal (MAT) on December 23 last year. However, the panel declined them interim relief, prompting them to approach the high court.

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Dere said that the MPSC had deleted three questions in the question paper booklet of September 2021 preliminary exams on the ground that the key answers were incorrect. He added that the petitioners had correctly answered the questions, but were deprived of marks due to the deletion by the commission.

However, the MAT said the MPSC had “not exercised its power arbitrarily” and therefore interim relief to interdict the process of selection was “unwarranted.”

The high court noted that initially it was not inclined to interfere as the view taken by MAT is “plausible,” as the tribunal chooses one of two possible views “which it may not find absurd or irrational”.

However, the high court bench said its intervention was required as it was informed that the respondents MPSC and the state government have not filed the affidavits in reply before the MAT which had fixed the next hearing in the original application on January 21, and as the MAT had given four more weeks to file affidavits.

The bench observed, “If indeed the Commission was diligent and filed the reply affidavit by the time stipulated, we would not be unreasonable in assuming that the original application could have been finally decided prior to January 29, 2022. However, it is the lack of diligence of the Commission that has resulted in the Tribunal adjourning the proceedings till February 22, 2022 by which time further examination scheduled on January 29, 2022 would be conducted.”

The high court then granted interim relief to the petitioners and clarified that the results of the petitioners in the January 29 exam will not be published till the tribunal’s further order.

When the government lawyer said making arrangements for the petitioners may not be possible within such short notice, the bench said it cannot accept the same.

Disposing the plea, the bench requested the MAT to consider the application finally on the next date fixed and if the MPSC fails to file its reply affidavit by then, no further extension may be granted to it to ensure early completion of the process of recruitment.

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