ISLAMABAD, Aug 14: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) administration has initiated the process aimed at ascertaining the authenticity and criteria of the exam the National Testing Service (NTS) gives to candidates for recruitment in government sector organisations.
A senior IHC official on condition of anonymity told Dawn that the IHC administration had initiated the process because they are receiving a number of complaints on daily basis, in which the candidates say that despite securing highest marks in the test, the NTS did not call them for interview.
He said the IHC administration in order to ensure transparency in the recruitment of about 200 ministerial staff of the lower courts asked the NTS for taking the exam of the candidates.
The IHC administration had also assigned the testing body for conducting the exam for the appointment of judges of subordinate judiciary after some lawyers expressed reservations over the appointment process and challenged the shortlisting of the candidates for the slots of additional sessions’ judges and civil judges, he added.
He said the complaints the IHC administration had received so far against the NTC exams revealed irregularities committed by its officials.
Fiza Batool, a candidate who had applied for the post of stenographer, told Dawn that despite ignoring the candidates who secured high percentage in the exam, the NTS officials also charged separate fee from the same candidate who applied for the same post in district and sessions division “east” and “west”.“For example I paid Rs800 for the posts of stenographer lying vacant at “east” and “west” sessions divisions but NTS authorities did not take separate tests and finalised their results for both sessions divisions on the basis of a single exam despite charging double fee,” she said.
According to a district court official, around 8,000 candidates had applied for 200 posts of IHC subordinate judiciary and paid millions of rupees to the NTS.
He said there were 32 posts of stenographers, seven senior clerks, 81 junior clerks, 50 process servers and 24 peons, five bailiffs and three sweepers were lying vacant at sessions divisions “east” and “west”, adding that the NTS authorities even charged exam fee from the candidates for the post of peon and sweepers and conducted the exam for them as well.
He said that some candidates had already gone into the litigation and the IHC judge not only admitted the petition for regular hearing but also linked the finality of the appointments with the decision.
IHC Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui on July 27 heard the petitions of some candidates who appeared in the NTS exam and despite securing high percentage were not called for final interview and adjourned the matter till September.
Bilal Khan, the counsel for the petitioners, told the court that the petitioners were shocked when they saw 44 candidates were called for interview on July 21, although 22 of them had secured less marks than what the petitioners had obtained.
The petition said that despite securing 60 to 70 per cent marks a large number of candidates were not called for the interview whereas in one instance an applicant who secured only 7 per cent marks in the test was issued interview letter.
According to the petition, the act of short-listing of the candidates was illegal and based on favoritism and nepotism and was against the Article 4 and 25 of the constitution which guaranteed the protection of fundamental rights and ensures equality of citizen.
The petition requested the court to set aside the short-listing. It also requested for directions to the NTS for providing a fair opportunity to the petitioners for appearing in the interview for the posts they had applied for.
Professor Haroonur Rasheed, chief operating officer NTS when contacted said that the testing body is only responsible for conducting fair and transparent exam and the induction in any government department is the discretion of their respective offices.It may be pertinent to mention that NTS reportedly conducted exams of millions of students and job seekers and earned billions of rupees. A female doctorate student in May this year also filed a complaint against the NTS in the Lahore High Court (LHC) in which she questioned the legal status of the testing body. The matter, however, is still pending in the LHC for adjudication.