While all stakeholders are eagerly looking forward to the CBI Enquiry Report, as directed by Hon’ble High Court of Manipur, and to significant reforms in the Manipur Public Service Commission (MPSC), the latter has come up with a plan to conduct the Manipur Civil Services Combined Competitive Examination (MCSCCE) Mains 2016 re-exam in haste. On the other hand, the Government of Manipur, in the light of new evidences which surfaced recently, has filed a review petition in the Hon’ble High Court of Manipur, the hearing for which was scheduled for April 2020, has been delayed due to the ongoing pandemic. At this crucial juncture, the issue of notification for MCSCCE Mains 2016 re-exam by MPSC has taken everyone by surprise.
If at all the successful candidates are to be written off, the matter at least deserves a decent ‘burial.’ It is most insulting to the dignity of a human being and utter grievous to the conscience of a civilized society to have inflicted so much mental agony and humiliation to the candidates concerned for absolutely no fault of theirs. It is against all moral and ethical values cherished and upheld by our society. This incident is unique in that the unsuccessful participants in a competition are given a higher pedestal than the successful ones.
The sheer hypocrisy of all these is glaring. About 1130 candidates were declared successful in the MCSCCE Mains examination in 2016. These successful candidates (in the Mains Exam) supported the subsequent conduct of the Personality Test/Interview round. However, it was a different story after they couldn’t make it. Only 82 were selected, and most of those who couldn’t make it to the merit list switched their support to those who couldn’t clear the Mains and joined them (the petitioners) in questioning the examination in its entirety. Make no mistake, this was after they participated in the examination in full. The rules, under which the most recent MCSCCE exams and various other exams were conducted, suddenly became ‘questionable’ in their opinion. The absence of Controller of Examinations, for instance, suddenly became a big issue. While we are at it, let’s not forget that the post of Controller of Examinations in MPSC was non-existent at this point and was only created in 2019. Did the previous exams conducted by MPSC have Controller of Examinations? NO.
The selected candidates have served our state, in various capacities, with utmost sincerity for over 2 years and most of them were posted in far-flung areas. They diligently gave their all to the people they served. Let’s not forget the fact that these officers, especially those posted in remote areas, neither had the time nor luxury to follow up consistently on the unsuccessful candidates’ legal case against MPSC. They made a choice to devote themselves to the service of the government and the people rather than direct their attention to the unrelenting case against them by the unsuccessful candidates. They served our state with utmost zeal and sincerity, and while they were at it, somewhere in high places their termination letters were set in order.
The successful candidates were then condemned to daily vilification on social media and dubbed as ‘Huranba 82’ in full public display. There was no allegation of bribery or such illegalities found against the successful candidates, but were willfully targeted as such everywhere on social media and in daily public discourse. While they completely relied on their innocence in the matter, their fates were sealed when their appointments were nullified by Hon’ble High Court, in its 18October 2019 judgment. Subsequently they were served termination letters by the Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms (DP), Government of Manipur.
If the slated examination was to be held for namesake, the reformation prospect of MPSC as a result of this appears to be just hogwash. While the termination of the appointment of innocent successful candidates in December 2019 was a matter of victorious celebration for many, it shredded the lives of 82 people and their families in ways unimaginable. For the vast majority of people, this was just another event and their lives went on, but for these 82 people and their families, their lives have never been the same as they battle mental agony and endless public ridicule. The reputation and integrity they have built for themselves in the last many years have been shattered. Shattered, simply because they participated and succeeded in the MCSCCE 2016.
As things stand now, it would appear that, other than the termination of the services of 81 officers, nothing has been achieved in terms of finding the culprits and holding them accountable. So, is it safe to conclude that the real and only target of some unsuccessful candidates masquerading as reformers of the system and who have been running day in and day out over the last few years, was the termination of those 82 officers? If true, this is schadenfreude in its purest form.
While we are all witnesses to the unfolding of these events, let us remind ourselves the words of Theodore Roosevelt: “Justice consists not in being neutral between right and wrong, but in finding out the right and upholding it, wherever found against the wrong.”
Jonathan Kipgen. Views are personal.