Mrunal Manmay Dash

In a major judgement, the Orissa High Court on Friday ruled that there were no irregularities in the selection process carried out by the Odisha Public Service Commission (OPSC) for the recruitment of Assistant Section Officer (ASO) and upheld the merit list of 1104 candidates published by the commission.

Pradipta Mohanty, the Counsel representing OPSC said, “OPSC has absolute authority to shortlist candidates. OPSC can determine the qualifying marks, and it could be the aggregate mark or subject-wise. It was published in the OPSC advertisement as well. The government has also mentioned in its requisition that the OPSC can adopt any selection process.”

A single bench of Orissa High Court on May 19 had scrapped the merit list prepared by the OPSC for recruitment to the 796 posts of Assistant Section Officer (ASO) in the state secretariat ordering it to prepare a fresh merit list on the basis of marks obtained by candidates in the written examination, within two months.

Speaking about the Court order, Mohanty said, “A lot of people are applying but there are only so many positions. A selection method is required to shortlist candidates. So the court ruled that the method adopted by the OPSC was right.”

Commenting on the allegations that the OPSC changed the rules arbitrarily, Mohanty said, “Contrary to the allegations, the rule of game was never changed. The procedure of selection has been the same. The OPSC had clearly mentioned in the advertisement that the selection criteria can be on aggregate marks or subject-wise marks. It means the qualifying marks can be fixed by either of the means,” Mohanty said.

“Last time, the OPSC had selected on the basis of aggregate marks. But it was witnessed that many applicants who were poor in some of the subjects got qualified. As it is an administrative job, the candidates need to be good if not great, in all the subjects,” Mohanty added.

“As far as the appointment process is concerned, the Division bench rejected the single bench ruling. The court said OPSC has full power and the selection process adopted by it is fully justified. The Court directed the OPSC to resume the skill test and prepare a merit list, after which a recommendation will be made to the government to provide appointment letters to the candidates,” he said,

The OPSC had conducted the written examination to fill up 796 posts of ASO on August 27 last year and the results were published on November 7.

It is pertinent to mention here that several candidates had moved the Orissa High Court alleging irregularities in the ASO recruitment examination. The court interfered in the matter after the OPSC published a merit list of 1104 aspirants.

As per reports, the controversy revolves around the new ‘qualification mark rule’ that the OPSC brought to the table while determining the merit list. As per the new rule, sectional cut-off was introduced wherein candidates needed to secure qualifying marks in each subject.

The applicants complained that the OPSC never mentioned the new qualifying mark rule in its advertisement and brought it at the later stage after the written exams.

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