The Punjab and Haryana high court has directed the Punjab state agricultural marketing board to re-cast the merit list for secretaries' posts, advertised in April 2011.
The single-judge bench of justice Deepak Sibal on Tuesday set aside the 2011 appointment of 54 secretaries and directed the board to prepare a fresh list after ignoring five additional marks awarded to candidates having a rural background. The entire exercise is to be completed within two months.
The HC order came on a bunch of petitions, wherein the five marks awarded to applicants who had studied in schools in rural areas for a minimum period of five years and passed the middle-standard examination and senior secondary examination from such schools were challenged.
The results were announced in November 2011 and appointments made, following which the decision of awarding five additional marks was challenged in the high court.
In January 2014, on the same petition, a full bench of the HC had held that the grant of additional marks to candidates seeking public employment who had studied in schools in rural areas was unconstitutional.
Justice Sibal, in his order, recorded that once it had authoritatively been held that persons having a rural background, while seeking public employment, could not be granted any weightage as the same was not permissible, no such weightage could be allowed to be granted.
The HC also rejected the argument from those selected and serving with the board that they were working for more than three years and there being no fault on their part, they should not be ousted.
The single-judge bench observed that the selected candidates could not be allowed to reap the benefits of marks, the grant of which had been held to be constitutionally impermissible. "It has not been projected whether any of the private respondents (appointed) have become overage for fresh recruitment. No exercise was done to bring about the fact as to how many of the private respondents would actually be ousted if a fresh merit list is drawn up after ignoring five additional marks," the HC bench said while setting aside the selections.
The merit list for 54 posts of secretaries was prepared after giving five marks each to candidates with a rural background
The posts were advertised in April 2011; the results were announced in November 2011
In January 2014, a full bench of the HC had held that the grant of additional marks to those candidates seeking public employment who had studied in schools in rural areas was unconstitutional
The court has directed the agricultural marketing board to prepare a fresh list within two months after ignoring these five additional marks.