The Supreme Court, on 31st August 2018, had stayed the declaration of results of the Staff Selection Commission (SSC) Combined Graduate Level (CGL) Exam and the SSC Combined Senior Secondary level (CHSL) exams of 2017, on grounds that the entire test was tainted. After having suffered the brunt of the erratic timeline of court hearings, aspirants who have been awaiting results for more than 650 days express resentment.
The last hearing the Supreme Court regarding the SSC case which was to take place on March 15, was postponed to March 26. The court, however, has contemplated forming a special five-member committee consisting of experts to look into the matter. However, since there has been no respite in the case even after one year, many have lost hopes and feel dejected. However, there are few who still willing to fight out. They are pursuing the case with gusto and even plan on holding a protest in New Delhi.
Results awaited for over one year
Each year, lakhs of students appear in the SSC examinations to vie for employment in government services in C and D Category of jobs. The posts include posts like Income Tax inspector, Inspector Examiner (CBEC), Assistant Audit Officer (Gazetted post-Group B), Assistant Section Officer in Ministry of External Affairs and Central Secretariat, and so on. The recruitment also has four levels to be cleared for the final selection. The final allotment is based on the choice opted by the aspirant and his/her final marks. Hence, the whole process is highly competitive and demands rigorous preparation.
Over 30 lakh students had registered for the SSC CGL 2017 examinations. There were large scale protests by students against the alleged paper leak of CGL exams in 2017. After the Staff Selection Commission recommended an inquiry by the CBI into the allegations of the leak of questions of the Combined Graduate Level (Tier-II) Examination 2017, the government ordered a CBI probe into the same. After a CBI report had cast aspersions on several SSC officials and the custodian of the examination paper, the results were withheld by the Supreme Court which delivered a stay order on the same.
A Supreme Court bench, consisting of Justices S A Bobde and L Nageswara Rao, stated, “Upon perusal of the status reports dated July 25, 2018, and August 30, 2018, filed by the CBI, we find that…the CGL examination 2017 and CHSL examination 2017 were tainted.” The bench concluded, “Hence, there shall be an injunction restraining the respondents (SSC) from declaring the results of the aforesaid examinations until further orders.”
However, in this medley of accusations and controversies, the worst sufferers have been the ones who appeared for the exams and have been awaiting results for more than 670 days since the first time notification was put out. One roadblock to the resolution of this crisis is the erratic timeline of court hearings and the significant delays in listing the case in front of a legal bench.
Nikita S, an SSC aspirant of 2017 wrote to The Logical Indian, “It has been more than 670 days since the notification for the exam was released and till now, the exam process has not been completed. By now, everyone should have started working.” As informed by Nikita, “the last significant legal hearing took place on January 17 and no hearing has happened after that.”
One of the SSC aspirants of 2017, Fathima Sinin, shared the timeline of events significant to the controversy with The Logical Indian. In an email sent to The Logical India, she noted, “The notification for the examinations was released on May 2017. This was followed by the Tier 1 examinations which were conducted from 5th August 2017 to 23rd August 2017 and over 15 lakh students appeared for this. Over 1.5 lakh students cleared this level to proceed to the next level. The Tier 2 examinations were conducted between 17th February 2018 and February 21, 2018. But due to a technical glitch, a re-examination of the Tier 2 examinations was conducted on March 9, 2018. Over 47,000 students were selected in this round to give the Tier 3 examination.”
She further elaborated, “Meanwhile, due to allegations of cheating and paper leak, there was a huge protest organised by various coaching institutes. Some political parties also added fuel to the fire. A renowned social activist cum lawyer filed a PIL in the Supreme Court of India for the cancellation of the said exam. Amidst all this drama, the 47000 aspirants who cleared the first two levels toiled hard every day to increase their chances of final selection despite the allegations of cheating.”
Her email further read, “On July 8, 2018, the Tier 3 examinations were conducted. We were relieved since only one level was left between us and our dream job. We were awaiting results of the third level at this point, but it was then that the Supreme Court put a stay on the results of the recruitment.”
A series of court hearings
Another aspirant, Kumar Rupam Patel, shared the timeline of court listings of this case with The Logical Indian. He noted in the email, “Since August 31, 2018, the timeline of how the case has proceeded is as follows:
Next Date Of Hearing (NDOH) – 12/10/2018 (no hearing)
NDOH – 29/10/2018
NDOH – 13/11/2018
NDOH – 13/12/2018 (judge absent)
NDOH – 10/1/2019
NDOH – 17/1/2019
NDOH – 22/01/2019 (judge absent)
NDOH – 29/012019(judge absent)
NDOH – 15/02/2019 (no hearing)
NDOH – 6/03/2019 (no hearing)
NDOH – 15/03/2019 (no hearing)
NDOH – 26/03/2019 (not yet listed)”
Airing concerns about the delays in the listing of the case in the court, Raghvendra Singh, an aspirant, wrote in an email to The Logical Indian, “For the last two months, not a single hearing has been given to us. All of us are going through a lot of torment and tribulation. All we are asking for is a judgement to be pronounced quickly.”
Expressing the resentment that is felt by a significant number of SSC aspirants of 2017, Sinin said, “ I don’t even feel like to go out anymore because I simply cannot discuss my search for a job or the ongoing court case. ‘So, what are you doing now?’ is a question that haunts me. The funny thing is, many of us have left our high paying jobs in the private sector especially to prepare for this recruitment.”
The Logical Indian Take
The question that is plaguing the minds of many an aspirant is, “Who is to be blamed for this grave anomaly? The government? The judiciary? Or themselves?” One can hardly find consensus to these burning questions. But there can be a consensus about the fact that these aspirants do not deserve to bear the brunt of anomalies within the system. They deserve better.