As many as 377 candidates who have been selected through the Maharashtra Public Service Commission (MPSC) exam in May 2018 for various Class I and Class II posts are still waiting for their postings. Earlier, they were asked to wait until a legal issue about the process was decided by Bombay High Court. But, even after the High Court has given its final judgment, the government has failed to assign their posts.
Why was the process delayed?
In December 2016, the MPSC advertised for recruitments for the 377 posts belonging to Class I and Class II categories, including posts of deputy collectors, deputy superintendent of police, tahsildar, assistant commissioner of sales tax, block development officer and superintendent (excise), among others.
The preliminary and mains examination for the recruitment were held in April and September 2017, respectively. Interviews of eligible candidates were conducted in March-April 2018 and final results were published on May 30 2018.
However, even before the interviews could take place, one of the candidates from a reserved category, Charusheela Chaudhari, moved the High Court for directions that she be allowed to stake claim to a seat in the ‘open, female’ quota as she had scored enough to make it to that list on merit.
A bench comprising Justice R M Borde and Justice K K Sonawane, citing three judgments delivered by the division bench of Bombay High Court, allowed her to be considered in the ‘open, female’ quota on July 12, 2018.
Following the directives of the HC, the MPSC prepared a merit list. Because of accommodation granted in the matter raised by Chaudhari, one of the candidates, Shilpa Kadam, was pushed out of the list. This prompted Kadam and another student from the open category to move a fresh petition challenging the legality of such a move, from vertical reservation category to the horizontal category.
What is vertical and horizontal reservation?
There are two types of reservations and they can be described as ‘vertical’ and ‘horizontal. ‘Vertical’ reservations are ‘social’ reservations provided under Article 15(4) and/or 16(4) of the Constitution. Those are meant for scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other backward classes. ‘Horizontal’ reservation is provided under Article 15(1) and/or 16(1) of the Constitution and these are for women, physically handicapped, freedom fighters, sportsmen and retired military personnel.
What did the High Court finally decide?
Although a High Court bench of Justices Mangesh Patil and R M Borde did not expressly decide on the fate of the candidates who moved court, it laid down a process for the MPSC to follow while preparing the final list and applying various vertical and horizontal reservations.
However, although the judgment was delivered on August 8, the MPSC has not yet acted on the court’s directive and informed the candidates about their joining dates.
Why hasn’t the MPSC acted?
According to sources, the MPSC and General Administration Department are still struggling with how to interpret the HC judgment. But the selected candidates are running out of patience.
“It has been 16 months since the final results were announced and over two-and-a-half years since the advertisement was published, and yet all of us are still waiting to join work. Earlier this year, when we met Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, he had promised that we will be given joining orders within a week of the HC disposing of the case,” said one of the selected candidates.
The MPSC candidates have met Fadnavis five times so far and have also staged a few protests demanding quick resolution of the issue.
Another candidate said that they were worried that if the government failed to take a decision on the matter soon, the model code of conduct for the assembly election will come into force and their fate will become more uncertain.
“Most of us come from poor backgrounds. A number of the selected candidates have either quit their earlier jobs or avoided joining other avenues. With this prolonged delay, many are struggling to make ends meet,” said one of the candidates.