Wednesday, February 27, 2008

HCS Selection Scam
High court warns against ‘media trial’
Yoginder Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 27
Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court Vijender Jain today directed all parties “not to run a parallel media trial” in what has come to be known as the HCS selection scam case.

Speaking for the bench comprising him and Justice K.S. Ahluwalia, during the resumed hearing of the case, Justice Jain said these things would not pressurise the court and would serve no purpose.

As the hearing resumed, counsel for the Haryana Public Service Commission (HPSC) and former advocate-general Ashok Aggarwal moved an application seeking the court’s permission to inspect the answersheets of all selected candidates in the HCS and allied services examination.

He said since all sorts of allegations regarding various irregularities had been made in the inspection reports filed by Mohan Jain, counsel for the petitioner Karan Singh Dalal, and Sanjiv Bansal, counsel for the state, the HPSC should be allowed to inspect the answersheets so that it could reply to the allegations.

Accepting his prayer, the bench allowed the commission to inspect the answersheets.

The court also accepted the pleas of various candidate-respondents to inspect their own answersheets.

However, a similar request by counsel for former chairman of the commission K.C. Bangar was denied.

The case will now come up for hearing on March 19.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

HCS Selection Scam
Story of a ‘missing’ map
Yoginder Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 20
Was a map to be attached with the answer sheets in the history paper of the controversial HCS and allied service examination conducted by the Haryana Public Service Commission (HPSC) as claimed by its former chairman K.C. Bangar and a selected candidate Kuldhir Singh? Or the map was to be drawn on the answer sheet by the candidates as a reading of the question paper suggests?

Bangar had alleged yesterday that the map which was attached with the answer sheet of Kuldhir, son of Sher Singh Badshami, the then political adviser to former Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala, was removed by someone to give an impression that the candidate had been awarded marks for five questions while he attempted only four.

He had supported the demand for a CBI inquiry to find out how the map was removed.

This question came up before the Division Bench, comprising Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice K.S. Ahluwalia, when the hearing on a petition filed by Karan Singh Dalal, MLA, challenging the HCS selections of 2002 resumed today.

At the start of the proceedings, it was alleged on behalf of Kuldhir Singh that officers of the HPSC in connivance with the secretary had removed the map. Counsel for the petitioner Mohan Jain produced a copy of the question paper which read that “draw an outline of map of India indicating the following…Also add a small note of one page to it…” Jain said as per the question paper, the map was to be “drawn” and not to be “attached” and one page note was also to be written.

In spite of this, Kuldhir was given 11 marks for this question. Apart from this, Kuldhir Singh, Jain said had crossed page numbers 18 to 21 in his English paper, but later at pages 20 and 21, which were also crossed, he had written answers which were duly marked and added in the total.

Counsel for the respondents also raised the question of maintainability of the petition as a PIL, which was rejected by the bench, which said the issue involved was of great public importance and directly related to the faith of the common man in the institution of the Public Service Commission.

The bench was also astonished that though the matter involved was of great importance for the public, it had been pending since 2002.

Jain also brought to the notice of the court that the reply to the inspection report had been filed by the HPSC through its officer on special duty, whereas, it should have been filed either by the secretary or the chairman.

The court directed that the reply should be filed again by present chairman M.S. Saini. The case will come up for further hearing on February 27.

Bangar for CBI probe into HCS selections
Yoginder Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 19
The INLD, which is drawing flak following “exposure” of the alleged irregularities in the HCS selections made during its regime, today fielded former chairman of the Haryana Public Service Commission (HPSC) K.C. Bangar to bat for it, though he made it clear that he decided to speak only after his patience ran out.

Bangar alleged that the record of the commission produced before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which is hearing a PIL filed by Congress MLA from Palwal Karan Dalal against the selections, had been tampered with. By whom and at what level? To find out this, he said, he supported the demand for a CBI inquiry as demanded by two successful candidates, Jagdeep and Kuldhir Singh, in writ petitions filed before the court as well as by the petitioner in his PIL.

While Jagdeep is the husband of Bangar’s niece, Kuldhir is a son of the then political advisor to former Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala, Sher Singh Badshami.

However, Bangar did not clarify whether the CBI should go into only the issue of “tampering of record” or into the entire selection.

Bangar said “maps”, which were compulsory questions, had been removed from the answer sheets of the two candidates. The inspection of their answer sheets had revealed that they had been awarded marks for five questions, while they had attempted only four questions.

However, Bangar admitted that the record was sealed when he was the chairman of the commission and his counsel was present when it was opened in the court. When asked under these circumstances how anybody could tamper with it, he said that was why the CBI inquiry was required.

In justifying the awarding of higher marks in interview to those who scored less marks in the written examination and less marks in interview to those who scored more marks in the written examination, Bangar had a dig at the judiciary also. He said the two tests were completely different in nature. While the written examination tested one’s bookish knowledge, the interviews tested various aspects of one’s personality. Batting forcefully for his team, he produced lists of candidates of various examinations conducted by the Punjab and Haryana High Court and the Delhi High Court.

Quoting from these lists, Bangar said it was not unusual for a candidate scoring higher marks in the written examination, getting lower marks in the interviews.

He said two girls, Mona Pruthi and Sonia, who made to the IAS after they were not selected in the HCS, did so six years after they sat in the HCS examination. “In these years, they could definitely improve their knowledge and intellect,” Bangar, who described himself as an “international scientist” argued.

He said there were no cuttings in the marks of individual questions and their total as indicated on the index page of every answer sheet. Cuttings or alterations in the marks inside the answer sheets were rather a quality of a fair examiner, he said.

Monday, February 18, 2008

HCS Selections
Board was given list of candidates to be selected: State
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
The HCS selection matter today took a new twist with the state of Haryana claiming that the interview board was provided with a list of candidates to be selected, so that the manipulations were carried out in a discreet manner.

The development is significant as the state, in its report submitted by additional advocate-general, has taken a stand similar to that of the petitioner. In the HCS selections made during the tenure of the O.P. Chautala government, the state also sought directions to the Haryana Public Service Commission (HPSC) to provide the name of paper setters and examiners of various subjects. The HPSC, meanwhile, contradicted the claims and refuted the allegations in a detailed reply. The matter will now come up for hearing on February 20.

It may be recalled that while alleging favouritism, counsel for petitioner Karan Dalal had earlier claimed that not only less marks were given in the interview; in some cases marks in the written test were also reduced. Following this, a Division Bench of the High Court, headed by Chief Justice Vijender Jain, had allowed the inspection of records by the petiitoner’s counsel Mohan Jain and his team.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

HCS Recruitment Scam
HPSC has murdered the system: HC
Yoginder Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
“By throwing out an intelligent person of Haryana origin, the Haryana Public Service Commission (HPSC) has, in fact, murdered the system.”

This stinging oral observation was made by a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court comprising Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice K.S. Ahluwalia here today when the hearing on a petition challenging the selection made by the commission for the HCS and allied services resumed.

The observation came after the Bench read an affidavit filed by a Scheduled Caste candidate, Shalender Singh Birla, who secured 565 marks in the written examination but was given only 17 marks out of 100 in the interview by the commission.

Giving a comparison of the marks secured by him and another Scheduled Caste candidate, Ranjit Kaur, who got 90 marks in the interview despite having scored 493 marks in the written examination, Birla stated in his affidavit that he was given less marks to favour Ranjit Kaur at his cost.

The judges noticed that the candidate was so intelligent that he had qualified for admission to all six IIMs, which is a rare distinction, yet the HPSC did not consider him intelligent enough to be selected in the HCS and he was given only 17 marks in the interview as against Ranjit Kaur, who was given 90 marks in the interview.

Appearing on behalf of petitioner Karan Singh Dalal, MLA from Palwal, former Advocate-General of Haryana Mohan Jain told the Bench that the answersheets of all candidates were inspected in pursuance to the court orders.

During inspection many irregularities, manipulations and interpolations, ostensibly not without connivance with HPSC officials, were detected.

Giving instances, Jain said in the case of Kuldhir Singh, son of Sher Singh Badsami, political adviser to then Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala, it was noticed that his marks in the answersheets were increased by way of cutting and overwriting without attestation.

In the history paper, although he attempted four questions, he was given awards for five questions. In the Hindi paper, though Kuldhir spelt the word “Hindi” as “Hindhi”, yet marks were increased.

Similarly, in the English paper, questions were found re-attempted at page Nos. 20 and 21 of the answersheet, though all pages from No. 18 to No. 21 were crossed, being blank.

Jain said in the case of Jagdeep, a close relative of then chairman of the commission K.C. Bangar, awards were given for five questions, though he had attempted only four questions in the geography paper and some of the answers were written afterwards, may be outside the examination hall.

He said in the case of Surender Kumar, a close relative of Chautala, marks were increased and tampered with without attestation.

The discrepancies were observed in the geography, criminal law and Hindi papers, where the difference in handwriting and tampering with marks was clear.

He claimed that Sarita Malik, daughter of then director-general of police M.S. Malik, was also favoured in the Hindi paper where the marks stood increased.

Also in the sociology paper, the awards on the opening sheet were in ink different than that used for evaluation inside the answersheet. In the general knowledge paper, full marks were given in spite of mistakes.

Certain discrepancies were also found in the answersheets of Veena Hooda, Kamlesh Kumar and Manish Nagpal.

The Bench directed that any respondent who was aggrieved by the allegations against him in the inspection report could file a counter-affidavit within seven days and the case was adjourned to February 20 for further hearing.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Chandigarh, January 27
Can the state government investigate the alleged irregularities in the Haryana Civil Service examination conducted by the State Public Service Commission during the Chautala regime on its own?

The selection has been challenged before the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Yes, says former Advocate-General of Haryana Mohan Jain, who is also representing petitioner Karan Dalal, firebrand MLA from Palwal. Dalal has been engaged in a campaign to highlight various alleged misdeeds of the Chautala regime for the past eight years.

During a sample survey of the answer sheets of certain candidates who appeared in the examination, prima facie irregularities were detected in the manner in which the answer sheets were evaluated.

Jain says it has been held by the Supreme Court in a similar case that “It is expected that a state government… shall leave no stone unturned to bring the guilty to book. It is the duty of the state to unearth the scam and spare no officer, how high he may be. We expect the state to make a thorough investigation into the matter.”

The former Advocate-General says in light of the observations by the apex court, it is the bounden duty of the state government to launch investigations into the scam at the first opportunity. While the court, he says, will come to its own conclusions as regard with the selection, the government agencies should do their duty to bring those to the book, who lowered the credibility and prestige of a Constitutional authority like the Public Service Commission.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that the then powers that be cheated out a Dalit candidate from making it to the HCS due to their mechanisations. The candidate, though a Dalit, would have made to the prestigious service even against a general category seat, so impressive was his performance in the written examination. But the commission did not award him marks in the interview in accordance with what he had scored in his written examination.

An SC Block B candidate, Shalender Singh Birla, having an impressive educational record, scored 565 marks in the written examination, which were much higher than 536 scored by the candidate who topped the list of successful candidates. However, Birla was given only 17 out of 100 marks in the interview.

Another SC Block B candidate, Ranjit Singh Kaur, who scored only 493 marks in the written examination, was given 90 marks in the interview, making it a total of 583 marks. This was apparently done to select her against the only one post which was reserved for this category.

Birla was pushed to the much junior post of assistant excise and taxation officer (AETO), which he did not join as a protest against the unfair selection.

If Birla had been given his due in the interview, two Dalit candidates would have made it to the HCS. But then it would have meant one post less to accommodate a favourite.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Says withdraw charge from ‘tainted’ officers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 24
Karan Singh Dalal, petitioner in the infamous recruitment scandal of HCS officers by the Haryana Public Service Commission (HPSC) during the previous Om Prakash Chautala-led regime, today said the state government must withdraw charge from these officers in view of the report submitted in the court today by a team of lawyers after examining HPSC records relating to the selection.

Dalal, who was an opposition MLA at the time of the selection of these candidates, had leaked out the results to the press even before it was formally announced, and had alleged malpractices in the selection process. He had also held a demonstration in front of the HPSC office in Chandigarh in protest against the selection of the 67 candidates for HCS (executive branch).

Dalal, who is now an MLA of the ruling Congress and chairman of the commission on administrative reforms set up by the state government, said the revelations contained in the report had put a question mark on all appointments done through the HPSC during the Om Prakash Chautala era.

He said Hardeep Singh, who was secretary of the HPSC when the alleged scam took place, should also be prosecuted for his role in the irregularities in the selection process.

When it was pointed out to Dalal that some of the candidates selected at that time had been given plump postings by the present regime, Dalal said this was akin to fattening a lamb before slaughtering it.

He said he would raise in the Assembly the demand of withdrawing charge from the HCS officers whose selection process had come under cloud.

The MLA, credited with exposing many a scandal during the Chautala era, said examination of the records had shown that bright women candidates were the worst victims of the pick-and-choose policy of HCS selection by the HPSC in 2002.

He said the HPSC had also discriminated against the Dalits. A particular Dalit boy, who did well enough in the exam to get selected in the unreserved category, was selected under the SC quota, thereby depriving some other Dalit aspirant from benefiting from the vacancy reserved for Dalits