L.N. Mittal, Member (J).
1. Pursuant to advertisement Annexure A-1 dated 21.02.2014, the applicants were selected for the post of Postal Assistant on going through the selection process. The applicants were accordingly offered appointment vide various appointment letters Annexures A-3 to A-5, in January/March, 2015. Vide order dated 23.12.2015 Annexure A-6, the aforesaid examination for direct recruitment of Postal Assistants/Sorting Assistants was cancelled. Pursuant thereto, services of the applicants have been terminated vide orders dated 23.12.2015 Annexures A-7 to A-19 based on the cancellation of the examination itself. In the instant O.A., the applicants have challenged the aforesaid termination orders on various grounds.
2. Reply to the O.A. is yet to be filed. Vide order dated 06.01.2016, respondents have been granted 3 weeks time to file reply and the O.A. is ordered to be listed on 01.02.2016. However, in the meantime, counsel for the applicants presses for interim relief. Accordingly we heard counsel for the parties on the question of interim relief and perused the case file with their assistance.
3. Counsel for the applicants vehemently contended that this Bench vide order dated 29.12.2015 in O.A. No. 060/01219/2015, Principal Bench vide order dated 04.01.2016 in O.A. No. 02/2016 and Jodhpur Bench vide order dated 07.01.2016 in O.A. 290/00019/2016 have granted interim relief in similar cases and, therefore, interim relief should be granted in the instant case as well. Counsel for the applicants also vehemently contended that no show cause notice or opportunity of hearing was given to the applicants before terminating their services and, therefore, principles of natural justice have been violated and the termination orders are bad in law. Reliance in support of this contention has been placed on judgments of Hon’ble Supreme Court in; i) M.P. State Coop. Bank Ltd., Bhopal Vs. Nanuram Yadav and Ors. [Civil Appeal No. 4481 of 2007 (Arising out of SLP (C) No. 12236 of 2006], ii) Mahipal Singh Tomar Vs. State of Uttar Pradesh and Others [2013 (16) SCC 771], and iii) Inderpreeet Singh Kahlon and Ors. Vs. State of Punjab and Ors. [2006 (3) SCT 25]. It was also submitted that efforts should have been made to separate tainted candidates from the innocent ones, instead of cancelling the entire examination.
4. On the other hand, counsel for the respondents submitted that the question of interim relief should be decided after having pleadings of the respondents. Record leading to the cancellation of the examination was also produced in sealed cover for perusal by the Bench. The sealed cover was opened and the record has been perused by the Bench, without showing it to counsel for the parties. Various reasons have been assigned in the record for cancelling the examination in view of malpractices in the selection process.
5. We have carefully considered the matter. We deem it appropriate to defer decision on the question of interim relief till after receipt of reply from the respondents because only thereafter the matter can be better appreciated. At this stage, suffice to observe that many reasons have been given in the record produced in the sealed cover to depict that there were large scale malpractices in the selection process on account of which the entire examination had to be cancelled. In these circumstances, without having reply of the respondents, it would not be appropriate to stay the operation of the impugned termination orders.
6. In the aforesaid context, it is significant to notice that admittedly the applicants stand relieved on 23.12.2015 itself pursuant to the impugned orders of even date. Consequently, granting of interim relief would mean interim direction by way of mandatory injunction requiring the respondents to permit the applicants to rejoin the service. For such interim mandatory injunction, more strong case is required to be made out. Moreover, granting such interim relief at this stage would be akin to granting final relief to the applicants.
7. As regards the interim orders in similar cases, order dated 29.12.2015 of this Bench was passed without there being any material on behalf of the respondents who have, however, produced the record of cancellation of the examination in the instant O.A. Consequently aforesaid order dated 29.12.2015 does not help the applicants in the instant case. Order dated 04.01.2016 passed by the Principal Bench and order dated 07.01.2016 passed by the Jodhpur Bench are based on order dated 29.12.2015 passed by this Bench and, therefore, the said orders are also of no help to the applicants at this stage.
8. As regards judgments of Hon’ble Supreme Court in cases of Inderpreet Singh Kahlon and Ors. (Supra), M.P. State Coop. Bank Ltd., Bhopal (Supra) and Mahipal Singh Tomar (Supra), the same relate to final decision of the lis and not to grant of interim stay. The said judgments do not have much bearing on the question of interim relief in the instant O.A. Moreover, according to observations in the case of Inderpreet Singh Kahlon and Ors. (Supra), if the State is satisfied that the officers in majority were part of the fraudulent purpose or the system itself was corrupt and such findings are arrived at, all appointments could be cancelled. In the instant case, order cancelling the entire examination is
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based on such finding and satisfaction. 9. For the reasons aforesaid, we do not find sufficient ground to grant interim relief to the applicants as prayed for by them, at this stage. The prayer is, therefore, declined. However, nothing observed herein before shall have any bearing on the merits of the O.A. or while considering the prayer of the applicants for interim relief after receiving reply of the respondents. 10. Record produced by the counsel for the respondents is being returned to him in a sealed cover. 11. List the O.A. on 01.02.2016 as already fixed.