ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court on Monday declared the Sindh Public Service Commission (SPSC), formed in 2013, null and void and ordered for the appointment of its new chief and members.

The court also cancelled tests and interviews for public service exam, CCE-2013, and ordered for fresh exams – to be undertaken by only those candidates who had earlier taken the written test, even if they have crossed the age limit.

A three-member SC bench headed by Justice Amir Hani Muslim announced the verdict, reserved on February 22 after hearing arguments.

Former chief justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali had taken suo moto notice of large scale illegalities committed by the SPSC chairman and its members in written tests and interviews of CCE-2013.

The judgment authored by Justice Qazi Faez Isa said “those who participated (in tests, interviews) cannot be blamed for the fault of the government and the commission”.

It said, “The inordinate delay by the commission in finalising matter may have caused some to exceed the maximum age, thereby, preventing them from applying again for another competitive examination that is advertised and many may also be financially constrained to bear additional fee/charge. At the same time, those who obtained an illegal advantage cannot be permitted to retain it.

The court directed to appoint as chairman a person who meets the qualification in terms of Article 242 (IB) of the constitution within two weeks, while qualified “persons of integrity and competence” be appointed members of the commission within four weeks.

In view of the large-scale illegalities/discrepancies committed in written tests and interviews of CCE-2013, the same are set aside and cancelled. It is, however, clarified that the screening test results were not cancelled/set aside, the verdict said.

The court said that fresh written tests for CCE-2013 for the posts, as advertised, be held as soon as possible after the appointment of the chairman and members of the commission and after the verification of the credentials of the existing/remaining members.

“Only 2,813 candidates who had earlier taken the written tests of CCE-2013 for the 182 posts be permitted to take the fresh written tests even if in the meanwhile they have crossed the stipulated upper age, and without requiring payment of any additional fee/charge.”

The judgment said that when the papers of the written tests are sent for marking the identity of the candidates must be kept secret. The marks of the written tests should be publicly displayed on the commission’s website, on the notice board in its premises and in one Urdu, English and Sindhi newspapers. The disclosure should be made of the marks obtained in each subject as well as the cumulative total of the candidates’ roll numbers.

All those who obtain the prescribed minimum pass marks in the written tests must be invited for the interview.

It further said that the marks allocated for the interview must be allocated to the interviewers equally, however, to avoid a fraction the chairman, or in his/her absence, the senior-most member shall have the higher mark rounded off.

The commission shall keep a separate record of the marks awarded by each interviewer and each interviewer should sign and date the same as well as the combined results.

The written tests, their marking, interviews and displays of results be completed as soon as is practicable since the matter pertains to CCE-2013, the verdict said.

The candidates should be selected for all the advertised posts, unless they don’t pass the written tests and the interview and the candidates who are selected by the Commission should be offered appointment by the government as per applicable law, and if any candidate declines the candidate, who is next on the merit list be offered the same.

The court said that in future the government should provide a list of existing vacancies, which should include a list of posts that may become vacant in the foreseeable future and a list of new posts of the commission every year and by a specified date.

It said that upon the receipt of such lists the commission should start making arrangement for holding of competitive examinations, for the current year 2017 the said lists should be provided by the government to the commission within 60 days.

Upon receipt, the commission should invite application from interested individuals by placing advertisements, which should also clearly stipulate the legally mandated reserved seats, including those for women and persons having physical disabilities.

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The judgment said that when the papers of the written tests are sent for marking the identity of the candidates must be kept secret. The marks of the written tests should be publicly displayed on the commission’s website, on the notice board in its premises and in one Urdu, English and Sindhi newspapers. The disclosure should be made of the marks obtained in each subject as well as the cumulative total of the candidates’ roll numbers.

All those who obtain the prescribed minimum pass marks in the written tests must be invited for the interview.

It further said that the marks allocated for the interview must be allocated to the interviewers equally, however, to avoid a fraction the chairman, or in his/her absence, the senior-most member shall have the higher mark rounded off.

The commission shall keep a separate record of the marks awarded by each interviewer and each interviewer should sign and date the same as well as the combined results.

The written tests, their marking, interviews and displays of results be completed as soon as is practicable since the matter pertains to CCE-2013, the verdict said.

The candidates should be selected for all the advertised posts, unless they don’t pass the written tests and the interview and the candidates who are selected by the Commission should be offered appointment by the government as per applicable law, and if any candidate declines the candidate, who is next on the merit list be offered the same.

The court said that in future the government should provide a list of existing vacancies, which should include a list of posts that may become vacant in the foreseeable future and a list of new posts of the commission every year and by a specified date.

It said that upon the receipt of such lists the commission should start making arrangement for holding of competitive examinations, for the current year 2017 the said lists should be provided by the government to the commission within 60 days.

Upon receipt, the commission should invite application from interested individuals by placing advertisements, which should also clearly stipulate the legally mandated reserved seats, including those for women and persons having physical disabilities.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 14-Mar-2017 here.