Court permits government to probe malpractices in selection of lecturers in 2009

The image of the Karnataka Public Service Commission (KPSC), which has already been marred by charges of corruption, has received another black mark with the Karnataka High Court on Monday permitting the State government to hold an independent inquiry into alleged malpractices in the process of selection to the 2,550 posts of lecturers in the government first grade colleges in 2009.

Though the court did not choose to interfere with the selection process, it gave permission to the State government to hold “an independent inquiry to ascertain possible malpractices and take punitive action against the officials of the KPSC, and invalidate the selection and appointment of candidates who benefited from and were part of such malpractices.”

A Division Bench, comprising Justice D.V. Shylendra Kumar and Justice B.S. Indrakala, delivered the verdict while partly allowing petitions of some of the aggrieved candidates, whose pleas were “not properly” considered by the Karnataka Administrative Tribunal (KAT) in its order of August 19, 2009.

“Something is wrong somewhere and not everything is alright with the KPSC… We get a feeling of suspicion and malpractice…,” the Bench observed while pointing out that there appears to be lack of uniformity in processing applications, forwarding them and acceptance of relevant documents with respect to different candidates.

Pointing out that some candidates were given more time, almost a year after the last date was notified, to submit certain documents, the Bench said the KPSC cannot adopt a pick-and-chose method as it has to treat all candidates equally. The court emphasised the need to streamline and bring in transparency to the affairs of the KPSC.

“Clearly violated”

However, the Bench said the KPSC had “clearly violated” the rules in awarding “weightage” marks to the candidates having experience of work as “guest lecturers” though there was no provision in the rules for giving weightage for having experience as “guest lecturers”.

The weightage, the Bench said, could have been given to only those candidates who had worked as “full-time lecturers” in private colleges affiliated to recognised universities and as “part-time lecturers” in government colleges. The State government too had argued before the KAT and in the court that the KPSC had given a go-by to the selection rules.

With this finding, the Bench directed the KPSC to issue a fresh selection list only with respect to those candidates, who were parties in these litigations, by deducting the additional marks given to them as weightage in subjects such as sociology, political science, economics, history and English.

M.Phil. degrees

However, the Bench did not go into the contention of certain aspirants that that the KPSC should not have considered the M.Phil. degrees awarded through distance education mode by Alagappa, Vinayaka Mission, Madurai Kamaraj, Periyar, Bharathidasan, and Annamalai universities in Tamil Nadu.

They had claimed these varsities neither had the authority to open their study centres in Karnataka, nor did they have approval from the Distance Education Council to offer M.Phil. course. They had also questioned relaxation from appearing for the National Eligibility Test for lecturers for those with M.Phil. and Ph.D degrees.

Refraining from looking into the issue of validity of these degrees as aspirants had only sought a direction for not considering these degrees, the Bench said it is for the UGC and the State government to ensure proper procedure that does not lead to discrimination.