Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey directed respondents to to conduct the counselling-cum-document verification of the petitioners with respect to the post of Information Assistant (ST Category) advertised vide notification No. 03/2017 dated 17th of November, 2017 after giving wide circulation to the same in the area(s) where the concerned candidates, i.e., the petitioners herein, reside and, accordingly, finalize the selection of the said post on the basis of merit secured by the competing candidates in accordance with the rules governing the subject. Since, the advertisement in question stands issued by the respondent Board way back in the year 2017, therefore, let the respondents complete the aforesaid exercise and take the selection to its logical conclusion expeditiously, preferably within a period of two months from today.
This significant judgment has been passed in a petition filed by Tufail Ahmed Lone & Ors seeking direction to respondents to conduct counselling and document verification in respect of the petitioners for the post of Information Assistant advertised vide notification No. 03/2017 dated 17-11-2017 and also to consider the petitioners for final selection against the post of Information Assistant advertised vide notification No. 03/2017 dated 17-11-2017 and in case the petitioners are meritorious, select and appoint them on the post of Information Assistant.
Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey observed that the petitioners are the only two candidates who have been shortlisted for the post of Information Assistant under ST category, but, they, due to lack of knowledge, could not attend the counselling-cum-document verification process initiated by the respondents on the appointed date. It is also not in dispute that the petitioners hail from a far-off place in Kargil, where comparatively far lesser modes of communication are available. Furthermore, from a bare perusal of the notification dated 9th of May, 2018, it becomes axiomatic that copy of the same was sent to Director Information, J&K for publication of the same in at least three local newspapers of Jammu/ Srinagar on three consecutive dates, but no request was made to the Director Information J&K to publish the notification in any local newspaper of Ladakh Division. The respondents, on being specifically asked by this Court to produce the relevant records substantiating the publication of the notification for counselling-cum-document verification in the leading newspapers, could not produce anything with respect thereto. It being so and having regard to the fact that only two candidates were shortlisted for the post of Information Assistant under ST category, the respondents could not deny the petitioners the right to participate in the selection only on the ground that they did not turn up on the appointed date fixed for counselling-cum-document verification, for which a reasonable explanation has been given by the petitioners. Even otherwise, since there are only two candidates shortlisted for selection against the post of Information Assistant under ST category, viz. the petitioners herein, therefore, no prejudice could have been caused to anyone, muchless to a competing candidate, in case the respondent Board, in view of the fact situation attending the instant case, had re-fixed the date for counselling-cum-document verification so as to take the selection process so initiated by them to its logical conclusion and the contention of the respondent Board that the notification dated 9th of May, 2018 was duly uploaded on the official website of the Board may constitute due and sufficient publication with reference to the candidates hailing from Srinagar/ Jammu, but the same cannot hold good for the candidates who hail from far-flung areas like Kargil. Moreover, since the petitioners, who both hail from Kargil, were the only two candidates shortlisted for the post in question, therefore, it was incumbent upon the respondent Board to have the notification dated 9th of May, 2018 for counselling-cum-document verification published in any of the newspapers having wide publicity in Ladakh Division, which has not been done by the respondents thereby prejudicing the rights and interests of the petitioners. With these observations High Court allowed the petition. JNF