J. Venkatesan

Supreme Court asks Andhra Pradesh Commission not to publish results

Bench issues notice to the State and the respondents

Directs the matter to be listed for final hearing on September 4

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday allowed the Andhra Pradesh Public Service Commission to conduct Group-I services examination as scheduled on August 7, but asked the Commission not to publish the results.

The court posted for final hearing on September 4 an important question raised in the special leave petition filed by the Commission, viz whether the rule of reservation could be given a go-by at the stage of screening candidates for selection for the main examination.

A Bench of Justice S.B. Sinha and Justice Cyriac Joseph passed this interim order on a special leave petition filed by the Commission against a judgment of the Andhra Pradesh High Court declaring illegal the selection of applicants in the ratio of 1:50 for the main written examination for Group-I services without reference to reservation.

Notice to State

The Bench said the examination would be held subject to the condition that while doing so the cases of all those respondents (candidates) who were found eligible in terms of the operative portion of the High Court judgment could participate without prejudice to the rights and contentions of the parties.

The Bench said: “The APPSC shall not publish the results. The impugned judgment is stayed subject to this modification.” Considering the important issues involved, the Bench issued notice to the State and the respondents {petitioners before the High Court} and directed the matter to be listed for final hearing on September 4.

Senior counsel L. Nageswara Rao, appearing for the Commission, submitted that the relevant rule was in force for nearly 20 years and it could not be changed all of a sudden. However, senior counsel P.P. Rao, appearing for the candidates, said if the rule of reservation was not followed at the stage of screening of applications, the very purpose of reservation would be defeated. The Commission by a notification invited applications for Group-I services stating that the number of candidates to be admitted to the written examination would be 50 times the total number of vacancies available irrespective of communities. The State Administrative Tribunal rejected an application to quash the relevant clause as illegal.

On a writ petition, the High Court held as illegal the notification to the extent “as it says irrespective of communities.” However, the court said, “If the petitioners fall within the ratio of 1:50 against each vacancy in each group/category, as the case may be, they alone shall be allowed to appear for the main examination to be held on August 7 or on any other date.”

The APPSC in its appeal said “if rule of reservation was made applicable at the stage of shortlisting of candidates, it would lead to an anomalous situation and deprive many meritorious reserve category candidates and allow consideration of less meritorious candidates for such open category posts and the same would be contrary to the principle of merit and equality of opportunity.”