In 2006, Padma Singh, a Varanasi resident moved the Allahabad High Court seeking directions to the Uttar Pradesh Senior Education Service Selection Board (UPSESSB) to allocate an institution for her to join as an assistant teacher.
Ms. Padma had applied to the post in pursuance of an advertisement in 2001, during the Bharatiya Janata Party government.
Though she was successful and recommended for appointment at an Intermediate college in Lucknow, when she reached there she was informed that there was no vacancy. The Board then directed her to approach another college in Varanasi but she was not absorbed there as well. She then filed the writ. Justice Arun Tandon rapped the Board and called for an independent enquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation after “illegalities” were found in the appointment of all 180 posts. "Something has gone fundamentally wrong," the court noted as it cited individual cases of "illegalities."
The Court also directed probe into the adjustment of all 180 candidates, whether they were "motivated by ulterior considerations,” and investigation into the personal assets of those involved if it was found that adjustments were made for favours.
Prior to the order, the Court had noted that “no progress was seen in the matter due to the attitude of the government” to change Secretary Rajeev Kumar and because there was "a deliberate attempt on the part of the officers of the UPSESSB to conceal the facts as well as the documents."
However, the order was challenged by a writ petition on grounds that it had gone beyond the purview of the petition filed by Ms. Singh, who only wanted a job.
A division Bench of Chief Justice H.L Gokhale and Justice Pankaj Mittal admitted the petition and set aside the order on November 22, 2007. Citing the case of Jasbir Singh vs State of Punjab (2006), the court said the orders passed were without jurisdiction.
In 2008, Ms. Singh withdrew the petition as she was absorbed into an institution in Varanasi. Justice Rajiv Sharma then dismissed the writ rendering it “infructuous.”
However, legal experts have raised doubts that the court was misleading by not quoting the history of the case and that the writ could not be infructuous as revelations into mass irregularities had been made.
"Under normal circumstances, the court allows the petitioner to withdraw the writ, but here, a CBI enquiry had been instituted. Yet it was not raised before the court. The judge was within his rights to call for an enquiry. How can the writ be infructuous? What about the 180 illegal seats?” an expert told The Hindu.
The Court had earlier deferred a CBI enquiry after the chief standing counsel had assured that a detailed enquiry would be conducted by the Special Secretary Education UP H.L Gupta. However, the Court found “no attempts to verify the existing vacancies, the mode and manner of selections of the candidates who had been offered adjustment.”
Mr. Sharma, who was appointed as Secretary, submitted a report pointing out that in all cases the procedure was followed ad hors (outside) the rules.
Subsequently, the Court noted that in “large number of cases" the panel forwarded by the then secretary itself was “illegal.”
However, before Mr. Sharma could complete his probe he was removed and Mr. Gupta, earlier Special Secretary, was made Secretary. Mr. Gupta submitted before the court that it was not possible to hold an enquiry into the manner of selections as the original documents concerning the selection of adjusted candidates, including key answers to the written papers, were not being made available by the UPSESSB. The chairman of UPSESSB said the documents were not available with his office as the “previous secretary, chairman did not hand it over."
The UPSESSB also submitted that records asked by the Court had no relevance in the case and they were not obliged to hand over the documents. It was obvious, the Court noted then, that the "officers wanted adjustment on the asking of selected candidates and therefore all statutory rules have been given a go bye and the Secretary white washed the directions by giving warning and adverse entries."
Even as the matter is yet to come in public domain, according to informed sources, it is in advanced stages of probe under the UP Lokayukta N.K Mehrotra. However, when asked about the status of the probe, Justice (retd.) Mehrotra declined to comment.