The Supreme Court Thursday sought Uttar Pradesh government's reply on a batch of pleas challenging the Allahabad High Court verdict which upheld the state's decision to keep higher cut-off marks for the appointment of 69,000 assistant basic teachers.
The top court asked the state government to explain through a chart detailing the vacancies and the chronology of events in the process which was undertaken for the appointments.
A bench of Justices U U Lalit, MM Shantanagoudar and Vineet Saran which initially declined to interfere with the high court verdict later modified its order and issued notice to the state government and posted the matter for further hearing on July 6.
It asked the Uttar Pradesh government to explain as to why it changed the earlier criteria of 45 per cent cut-off marks for the general category and 40 per cent for the reserved category.
The bench sought a detailed reply before July 6.
The top court said the matter required detailed hearing as there were many parties to the litigation and it would be better if the pleas are adjourned till open court hearings resume.
Several petitions, including those by individuals and Uttar Pradesh Prathmik Shiksha Mitra Association, have been filed challenging the May 6 decision of the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court.
At the outset, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for one Ram Sharan Mauraya, said that single bench order of the high court was in their favour but the division bench order went against them.
He said cut-off marks cannot be fixed after the exam is over as they have to be decided before the examinations are conducted and therefore the process was wrong.
Rohatgi said the issue also deals with nature of contract and changes made regularly in the appointment process.
He said that after the examination on January 6, 2019, the cut-off was made 65 per cent for the general category and 60 per cent for the reserved category, from the earlier 45 per cent and 40 per cent respectively.
To this, the bench told Rohatgi that due to cut-off some of Shiksha Mitra's examinees were not able to qualify but the point is some of them did not even have the required marks.
The senior lawyer said that salary of Shiksha Mitra's is very less and if the cut-off marks is fixed at 45 per cent for general category and 40 per cent for reserved category, then many more people will get the chance.
The bench said it would like to hear the matter at length as there are too many counsels appearing in the matter and it would not be possible through video conferencing.
It then adjourned the matter for further hearing after the open court hearing resumes and refused to pass any interim order or status quo.
Senior advocates Rajeev Dhavan, Dushyant Dave, CA Sundaram and other lawyers, appearing for another set of Shikhsa Mitras', objected to the adjournment and said that court should hear it now as it is an important issue impacting lakhs of people.
Dhavan said the exam results should be recalculated and re-computed on the basis of the earlier cut-offs.
The bench asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the state, as to why were the rules and criteria changed after the examination was held.
Mehta said that he needs to take instruction on the issue but these people (Shikhsa Mitras') want to ride on the back of meritorious candidates.
The bench said that Mehta should file the reply before July 6.
The high court's final verdict of May 6 this year had paved the way for completing the process for appointment of 69,000 assistant basic teachers in Uttar Pradesh.
It had directed the state government to complete the process of appointment within the next three months.
The process is almost already complete on the strength of the interim directions of the division bench issued on May 29, last year and only result is to be declared finally.
The division bench has set aside the single bench order that had quashed the government order by which it had fixed the criteria of 65 per cent qualifying marks for general category candidates and 60 percent for reserved category candidates for appointment as basic teacher.
The single bench had said that the minimum cut-off marks would be 45 per cent for general and 40 per cent for reserved candidates.
On July 25, 2017, the top court had asked the state government to cancel the recruitment of 1,37, 517 teachers on the post of TET Assistant Teacher but give them the benefit of experience in two recruitment process.
Six months later, on January 17, 2018, the government had issued the order for the written examination for the assistant teachers' posts for the first time to hire 69,000 teachers.
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