Supreme Court orders to issue notice on SLP filed by State of Manipur in the Matter of MCSCCE 2016

The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered to issue notice on the Special Leave Petition filed by the State of Manipur & Ors, challenging the judgment of the High Court of Manipur(HCM) dated October 18, 2019, which quashed the Manipur Civil Service Combined Competitive Examination (MCSCCE) 2016 and led to the termination of all 79 appointed officers, and also the judgment dated December 17, 2020 which dismissed the Review Petitions. While the State Government did not challenge the HCM judgment dated October 18, 2019 earlier, it proceeded to challenge the judgements of the HCM with an SLP on the ground of a shocking discovery unearthed through RTI that 3 (three) children of both members of the two member Second Inquiry Commission, on whose report the 2016 exam was quashed, were unsuccessful candidates in the MCSCCE (Prelims) 2016. This discovery of new and important fact was not brought to the notice of the High Court earlier. Therefore, submitting the same before the High Court, who had appointed the two member Second Inquiry Commission, was essential before moving to the Supreme Court as a matter of regular legal practice. One of the main challenge of the SLP appears to be the failure of the judgments to uphold the Principle of Natural Justice which states that ‘No man cannot be a judge in his own cause’, an established judicial principle across the world which defines bias not only on evidence of actual bias but on the likelihood of bias. Mention may be made that the State had handed the responsibility of the matter to Shri. Rarry Mangsatabam, Additional Advocate General of the State. In the hearing that took place on July 19, 2021, the State was represented by Shri. Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General of India, along with Shri. Rarry Mangsatabam, AAG, and Shri. Ramesh Pukhrambam, Standing Counsel. Further, the Supreme Court had also ordered that the notice be made returnable on August 18, 2021.

Synopsis:

It may be recalled that the MCSCCE 2016 was first challenged in 2016 by some unsuccessful candidates through WP(C) 803 of 2016 and WP(C) 817 of 2016. However, the High Court of Manipur had dismissed the writ petitions in February 2017 after a three member Inquiry Commission(First Inquiry Commission) headed by a retired Judge of Gauhati High Court reported that no undue favor was detected. Thereafter, the Manipur Government inducted the selected candidates into various services as per the merit list. However, while appeals on the judgment were being heard in the Division Bench of the High Court, a Single Bench of Justice Kh. Nobin Singh hearing writ petitions WP(C) 606 of 2017 and WP(C) 725 of 2017 constituted another Commission in November 2017- a two member Second Inquiry Commission composed of a retired session judge and a retired bureaucrat. The Second Commission reported various lapses and irregularities to the Single Judge in July 2018. Based on this report, the Division Bench of the HCM gave a combined final judgement on October 18, 2019 which quashed the MCSCCE 2016, about two and half years after the appointment of the selected candidates of MCSCCE 2016. The Supreme Court also upheld the judgement of the High Court on Movember 22, 2019 based on the report of this Second Commission. 

Then a month later, through an RTI applied by one of the successful candidates to the MPSC, it was unearthed that three children of two members Second Commission members of Yumnam Jugindro Singh and U. Kol Singh were unsuccessful candidates in MCSCCE 2016. The State Government had decided to act upon the discovery of this previously undisclosed fact to ensure justice which led to filing Review Petitions in the HCM and ultimately the SLP at the Supreme Court which was ordered to issue notice yesterday.

Why is this case important:

The MCSCCE exam is the highest civil service examination in the state. Prior to MCSCCE 2016, the last such exam was held in 2014 – a vacuum of mind-numbing 7 years. The administrative machinery is under stress due to lack of trained officers.

​It is useful to note that an issue seldom turns out to be black and white. In a small state like Manipur, this case has been tainted with speculations, public harassment, trial and media etc. But a culture of mob justice is hardly the solution here. Worse, it can lead to unexpected and cruel consequences on innocents caught in the crossfire. It is a fact that numerous aspirants have wasted their productive years with no respite yet. And it is also a fact that no foul play, malpractice or favouritism has been alleged or proven against any of the successful candidates. Whether the successful candidates have been made scapegoats in this saga with unexpected twists is a reasonable question to ask at this point.​

​In any case, the intricacies of an issue of this magnitude should be given a proper trial by the Supreme Court, the altar of justice.

By robi.ngangom20@gmail.com

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