Guwahati, Dec. 6: The prolonged legal battle over the legitimacy of appointments in the Assam police constabulary two years ago ended today with Gauhati High Court upholding the recruitment process in only four of the 15 centres that had come under scrutiny.
A full bench of the high court — comprising Justice P.G. Agarwal, Justice B.K. Sharma and Justice Amitava Roy — struck down as many as 2,814 appointments. The break-up reads: Morigaon (86 posts), Barpeta (210), Darrang (218), Goalpara (218), Cachar (238), 4th Assam Police Batallion (319), Nagaon (354), Dhubri (178), Sonitpur (414), Jorhat (345) and Sivasagar (234).
The court upheld only 519 appointments — 198 in Karimganj, 19 in Hailakandi, 117 in the 10th Assam Police Batallion and 185 in the Kamrup District Executive Force.
Advocates B.D. Konwar and Nayan Jyoti Medhi, who represented 1.95 lakh “deprived” candidates, hailed the verdict as a “landmark judgment”. But for the ruling Congress, it was the second setback in as many days. Yesterday, the Supreme Court quashed a central notification that had resurrected a pro-migrant clause in the repealed Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act.
The recruitment fiasco dates back to August 21, 2004, when the government advertised 5,500 vacancies in the constabulary. About two lakh candidates turned up at the recruitment rallies that were held from December 3 to 11 that very year. When the list of “successful candidates” was published on January 31, 2005, those who did not make the cut hit the streets to protest favouritism in selection.
As many as 222 writ petitions were filed in court over the next few months, all questioning the fairness of the recruitment process.
The petitioners contended that the majority of those who were selected paid money to middlemen.
The court stayed the appointments on February 6, 2005, and asked for all records pertaining to the selection process. The documents came in 105 trunks, loaded onto two trucks.
On December 12, the single-judge bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi cancelled the appointments made in 15 centres and upheld the rest, triggering another uproar. This time, the state government and the selected candidates filed 54 writ petitions.
Though today’s judgment has sealed the issue, the last has probably not been heard from those candidates who made it to the original list but remain jobless.