Ramakanta Biswas

The Orissa High Court has quashed an advertisement of the Odisha Public Service Commission (OPSC) for recruitment to 391 posts of Assistant Executive Engineer (AEE) on the basis of GATE scores.

The advertisement was issued on March 18, 2023 by bringing in an amendment to Odisha Engineering Service (OES) Rules by the Odisha government without consulting the OPSC.

A division bench of Justice Subhasis Talapatra and Justice Savitri Ratho struck down the amended rule while hearing a batch of writ petitions. Through this amendment, the Odisha government had substituted the method of selection by the OPSC on the basis of career marking, written test and vive voce by the highest GATE Score obtained in the last three years preceding the advertisement. 

The court observed that consultation with the Public Service Commission in the recruitment of the civil posts is made mandatory unless exempted by the appropriate Rules framed under proviso to Sub-Article 3(e) of Article-320 of the Constitution. However, no consultation at all was held with the OPSC while amending the rules in this case.

"In view of the fact that the advice/opinion of the OPSC has not been placed correctly before the Cabinet and a wrong statement has been made before it that the OPSC has given its concurrence to the proposed amendments, Rule 4 of the Amendment Rules which amends Rule 3 and 4 of the OES Rule 2012 is liable to be struck down. Consequently, the impugned advertisement having prescribed the highest valid GATE scores of the preceding three years to be the basis of selection is also liable to be quashed," Justice Savitri Ratho said in the 103-page judgment. 

Ratho also observed that candidates have not been provided enough time/opportunity to appear in the GATE examinations thrice before publication of the advertisement dated 18.03.2023.

"The highest valid GATE Score for the preceding three years (from the date of advertisement) has been provided in the method of selection in the Advertisement, thereby depriving candidates who had not appeared for the GATE Examination in the year 2021," Justice Ratho added.

"A responsible Executive cannot slight the status of a Constitutional Institution like the Public Service Commission. The State may frame the rules observing the procedure as prescribed by the law, not in defiance thereof," Justice S. Talapatra said.