PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Thursday issued notices to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Public Service Commission and provincial government seeking their response to a petition against their decision to cancel a screening test held last year for BPS-17 posts of the Provincial Management Service.

A bench consisting of Justice Abdul Shakoor and Justice Shakeel Ahmad issued notices to the KPPSC chairman and chief secretary after holding preliminary hearing into the petition filed by three of the candidates requesting to declare illegal and void the cancellation of the screening test, which was cleared by 2,400 of the 33,000 candidates.

The respondents in the petition are the KPPSC through its chairman and the KP government through its chief secretary.

Barrister Syed Saad Ali Shah appeared for the petitioners, including Najeebul Haq and two others, and said the screening test was conducted on Jun 18, 2021, after the publication of an advertisement in that respect by the KPPSC.

Issues notices to chief secy, KPPSC chief on the matter

He added that the test was meant to bring the number of candidates to a manageable level for the syllabus-based written examination.

The lawyer, however, said the provincial cabinet had decided on Nov 3, 2021, to do away with that screening test held by the KPPSC.

He added that after the decision of the cabinet, an office order was issued by the KPPSC chairman on Jan 14, 2022, announcing the cancellation of the screening test.

Barrister Saad argued that both the provincial cabinet and commission had exceeded their jurisdiction while making the decision since they didn’t have the power vested in them by the law to undertake such a decision.

He said the decision in question was highly discriminatory and oppressive as it created unreasonable restrictions on the constitutionally guaranteed rights of those successful candidates, including the petitioners, who had appeared in the test and cleared it in accordance with the prevailing law.

The lawyer argued that the impugned actions of the two respondents also threatened to be a cause of demotivation, resentment, and frustration not only to the successful candidates but also to the public at large.

He said besides infringing the rights of the successful candidates, the Commission and provincial cabinet, being public functionaries, also violated their duty as they were mandated to act in a fair, just, transparent, equitable manner with procedural proprietary and to be within the parameters of the law.

The lawyer also pointed out that the KPPSC, which had a constitutional status, had the sole mandate to conduct tests and examinations under the law.

He said the provincial cabinet had no jurisdiction under the law and couldn’t bulldoze the commission into cancelling the screening test and that, too, after it was held.

The counsel insisted that the test cancellation came on the pressure of influential quarters to adjust their blue-eyed candidates, who couldn’t pass the screening test, a prerequisite under the law.

Published in Dawn, March 18th, 2022

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