W.P.(C) Nos. 803, 817 of 2016 and 60 of 2017. Case: Shalini Chingtham and Ors. Vs The Manipur Public Service Commission and Ors.. Manipur High Court

Case Number:W.P.(C) Nos. 803, 817 of 2016 and 60 of 2017
Party Name:Shalini Chingtham and Ors. Vs The Manipur Public Service Commission and Ors.
Counsel:For Appellant: G. Pushpa, R.K. Deepak, Girija Jain, R.K. Dhanaraj, Lucy Koikholam, Kh. Radhesana and Mahesh Angom, Advocates and For Respondents: N. Ibotombi, Learned Addl. A.G., A. Bimol, M. Rarry, R.K. Banna, S. Sasi, H. Prabirkumar, A. Golly, H. Suraj, A. Peter, S. Rubikar, H. Meera Chanu and N. Victina, Advocates
Judges:N. Kotiswar Singh, J.
Issue:Constitution of India - Articles 226, 315; Right to Information Act, 2005 - Section 11
Judgement Date:February 28, 2017
Court:Manipur High Court
 
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Judgment:

N. Kotiswar Singh, J.

  1. Heard Ms. G. Pushpa and R.K. Deepak, learned counsel for the petitioners and Mr. A. Bimol, learned counsel for the MPSC. Also heard Mr. N. Ibotombi, learned Addl. A.G. for the State respondents and Mr. M. Rarry, learned counsel for the private respondents.

  2. Considering the commonality of the issues involved and reliefs claimed in these two writ petitions, W.P.(C) No. 803 of 2016 and W.P.(C) No. 817 of 2016, are heard together and disposed of by this common judgment. Other related petition, W.P.(C) No. 60 of 2017 is also disposed along with these two petitions.

  3. The writ petition, W.P.(C) 803 of 2016 has been filed by 111 petitioners who are some of the unsuccessful candidates who had appeared in the Main Examination of the Manipur Civil Services Combined Competitive Examinations, 2016 conducted by the Manipur Public Service Commission (MPSC). They have sought for a direction for instituting a high level probe to investigate into the manner of examinations and for fresh checking and scrutiny under a separate and independent body other than the MPSC as the manner of evaluation of papers, tabulation of marks and procedure of scrutiny were done in a hasty manner.

  4. The other writ petition, W.P.(C) No. 817 of 2016 has been also filed by 10 unsuccessful candidates. In the said petition, they are also seeking the similar reliefs and for quashing/cancellation of the Main Examination of the Manipur Civil Services Combined Competitive Examinations, 2016.

  5. The Manipur Public Service Commission has vehemently opposed these 2 (two) writ petitions by filing affidavits-in-opposition. Some of the successful candidates in the main examinations numbering 15 have impleaded themselves in these 2(two) writ petitions in defence of the examinations so conducted and contested the claims of the petitioners.

  6. The MPSC had issued an advertisement dated 29.12.2015 for holding the Manipur Civil Services Combined Competitive Examinations, 2016 by following the Manipur Civil Services Combined Competitive Examination Rules, 2010 for recruitment to 82 posts in various categories of Manipur Civil Service Grade II, Manipur Police Service Grade II, Sub Deputy Collector, Manipur Secretariat Service/Section Officer, Election Officer. For various reasons, not germane to the core issues involved here, the said examinations were postponed. Ultimately, the Preliminary Examination was held on 3.7.2016 and the results announced on 8.7.2016 declaring 1160 candidates to have passed. The Main Examinations were held from 4.9.2016 to 23.9.2016 and results of the same were declared on 4.10.2016. The petitioners who were not successful in the Main Examinations have thereafter filed these petitions. The viva voce tests were held from 17.10.2016 to 22.10.2016 but the final results were not declared by the MPSC because of interim orders passed by this Court. Subsequently, this Court by order dated 21.12.2016 allowed declaration of the final results. It was however, directed that no appointment can be made without the leave of the Court.

  7. The petitioners have raised several pleas in challenging the results of the written tests of the Manipur Civil Services Combined Competitive (Main) Examinations, 2016.

    It has been contended, inter alia, by the petitioners that,

    (i) The results of the Manipur Civil Services Combined Competitive (Main) Examinations, 2016 were declared post haste, which itself is indicative of mala fide exercise on the part of the MPSC.

    It has been contended that though on earlier occasions, the MPSC took more than a month to declare the results of the written Main Examinations, this time, it took only 10 days from the conclusion of the written examinations in which 1068 candidates appeared which involves evaluation of about 9040 answer scripts only in just 10 days.

    It is the contention of the petitioners that since the actual declaration of the results from the conclusion of writing of examination involves a series of processes of codification, verification, evaluation, scrutiny, tabulation, de-codification etc., the results of the written tests could not have been declared in such a short period of 10 days.

    (ii) It is also the contention of the petitioners that though there was clear instruction to the candidates that no extra sheets will be provided under any circumstances, extra sheets were given to many of the candidates, thus violating the instructions.

    (iii) The other plea raised by the petitioners was that there were irregularities in not evaluating the papers simultaneously as provided under Note - ii of Section II(B) under Chapter II of the Manipur Civil Services Combined Competitive Examination Rules, 2010.

    (iv) It has been also pleaded that there was no moderation and scaling of marks contrary to the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court in this regard in the matter of competitive examinations conducted by the public service commissions.

    (v) It has been also contended that there were contradictory provisions for syllabus and questions.

    (vi) It was also pleaded that there were questions which were out of syllabus and some of the questions were wrong.

    (vii) It has been also alleged that there were no categorisation of the candidates belonging to General, OBC, SC, ST, etc. as regards the qualifying marks of General English papers of the Main Examinations which is against precedent.

  8. The defence of the MPSC in brief, as regards the first plea, is that the MPSC could complete the process of evaluation of the answer scripts within a short period of time by engaging more manpower and by beginning the evaluation process right from the next day of starting the examination and by calling the experts from the next day of starting the examination and also by calling the experts for evaluation in the Commission's office. Only in such cases where the number of answer sheets for a particular subject were very few and the evaluators were not readily available, those answer sheets were taken out personally by the Secretary to the experts outside for evaluation and brought back after completion of evaluation. In such a manner, the Commission could complete the process of evaluation within such a short span of time. In order to substantiate this stand the MPSC has annexed a brief note showing the number of days taken in evaluation of the answer sheets as Annexure D/3 to their affidavit in opposition.

    The said brief note also indicates the number of experts employed, number of answer scripts evaluated and the number of days taken in evaluation. It is with reference to the aforesaid brief note that the petitioners have stated that in respect of Essay Paper, that service of only 1(one) expert was utilised to evaluate 1063 answer scripts who took 14 days to complete the same. Hence, he could evaluate 75.9 answer scripts on an average in a day which according the petitioners is not humanly possible.

    Similarly, in respect of Education Paper - I, there was only 1(one) expert who evaluated 881 answer scripts in 13 days, thus evaluating on an average 67.8 answer scripts.

    As per the said information, 71 answer scripts of Political Science Paper - I were examined by one expert for 4(four) days, thus averaging 35.5 answer scripts in a day.

    Similarly, 178 answer scripts of Geography Paper - I were examined by 1(one) expert for 5(five) days, thus averaging 70.8 answer scripts in a day.

  9. On the other hand, the petitioners contended that in a competitive examination of this kind which requires proper application of mind by the evaluators, it would be humanly impossible to properly and judiciously scrutinise so many answer scripts ranging from 35 to 76 in a day by an evaluator. If such had been done as claimed by the MPSC, it would be plainly absurd and would be without proper application of mind on the part of the examiner which would vitiate the examination.

    In order to fortify this plea of the petitioners, it has been contended that in other examination systems as conducted by the Council for Higher Secondary Education, National Institute of Open Schooling, etc. the maximum answer scripts given to each evaluator is not more than 25. Thus ordinarily, not more than 25 answer scripts are given to the evaluators so as to give reasonable time to the evaluators to scrutinise the answer scripts by proper application of mind.

    It has been also submitted on behalf of the petitioners basing on certain study conducted that the average reading speed of English language is 228 words per minute. The petitioners contend that, therefore, in such a situation, the evaluators could not have properly scrutinised so many answer scripts ranging from 35 to 76 in a day without compromising with the quality of evaluation.

  10. The MPSC has vehemently opposed the submissions of the petitioners contending that evaluation of such a large number of answer scripts was possible considering the large manpower utilised to support the experts particularly at the stage of codification, scrutiny, tabulations, decodification etc. and also the long time allotted to the evaluators. It has been also submitted that since the questions to be answered are limited, the evaluators become more familiar with the pattern of answers of the candidates which enhances the speed of evaluation. In other words, it is possible to evaluate so many answer scripts as had been done without compromising with the quality of evaluation, as they are experts and also highly experienced in their respective disciplines.

  11. The MPSC also submitted that since many of the candidates had answered many common questions, the evaluators could easily gradually understand the pattern of answers as the evaluation progresses which also speeds up the evaluation process. In this regard, Mr. Bimol Ld. Counsel for the MPSC referred to the chart showing the common questions answered by the candidates in General English II (Essay), Education Paper-I, Geography Paper - I, Paper - II.

    It has...

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