The Madras High Court on Friday set aside selection and appointment of 83 candidates in Group I services for 2000-2001 for indulging in malpractices and grossly violating instructions to candidates.

Group I services include the posts of Deputy Collector, Deputy Superintendent of Police (Category-I), Commercial Tax Officer and Divisional Fire Officer.

In its common judgment on appeals challenging a single Judge's order of July 2009, a Division Bench, comprising Justices Elipe Dharma Rao and D. Hariparanthaman, observed: “The selection to high brass Group I services should have been made in a transparent and unbiased manner by the TNPSC without giving scope or room for anybody to raise their little finger against such selection.”

Earlier, writ petitions questioned the selection and appointment made in Group I services for 2000-01 and prayed for considering the petitioners for appointment.

The crux of the allegation was that the selected candidates used colour pens, sketch pens and pencils and also made certain markings contrary to the TNPSC instructions.

Eighty-three out of the 91 candidates selected committed violations including using sketch pen, pencil, two colours and making irrelevant markings.

A single judge held that violation of instructions and memorandum of admission would not result in invalidation of answer scripts and rejected the petitions. Hence the appeals.

The Bench said that the single judge was not correct in holding that candidates put only symbols of all religions. “We wonder as to in what manner the marking of such religious symbols are relevant for the purpose.”

The cheap techniques to gain sympathy by candidates violated the instructions. The answer scripts of candidates who used sketch pens, pencils/colour pencils and colour pens had to be invalidated in view of Note-5 of Memorandum of admission read with clause 22 of the instructions. The TNPSC ought to have invalidated such answer scripts.

The instructions were very clear that violation of instructions would lead to invalidation of answer scripts.

The judges said the TNPSC had not explained what made it entertain and value answer scripts that violated the conditions. Everything was not well with the selection. By now, most of the selected candidates would have put in a considerable period of service. But that did not mean that illegally and improperly appointed candidates should be allowed to continue with their services at the cost of genuine candidates, that too, when such illegal appointments had been questioned from the beginning.

The Bench set aside the single judge's order. Barring eight, it set aside the appointment of 83 respondents.

Mr. Justice Elipe Dharma Rao and Mr. Justice Hariparanthaman directed the TNPSC to revalue the answer sheets of only candidates who had not violated any instructions and by excluding candidates who committed violations and errors and prepare the merit list afresh and go on with their appointment.

As the appellants had not put in any service and considering the duties and responsibilities attached to the posts to which they have to be appointed, the Bench said it was not directing the government to grant them seniority.

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