The Madhya Pradesh High Court on 21st October heard the petition filed by the Madhya Pradesh public service commission (MPPSC) seeking annulations of the F.I.R. filed against its officer for the wrong done illegally under section 3(1)(r) and 3(1)(u) of the SC&ST Act,1989. the Court stated-
"The bench for the first time observing an F.I.R. regarding the question asked in the Madhya Pradesh Public Service Examination and according to the opinion of the court, a preliminary investigation must be done while taking into account the judgment passed in the Lalita Kumari v Government of Uttar Pradesh &others[i]"
The justice S.C. Sharma heard the plea of MPSC seeking for quashing of the F.I.R. registered against its officer claiming that a question was asked regarding the Bhil Community, and it included some derogatory remarks against the entire community; this has caused hurt to the entire Bhil Community sentiments. Regarding this, the Bench opined-
"The bench respects the feelings of the entire community, although, want to clarify that the questions which were asked in the Public Service Examination were not meant to be hurt the sentiment of the Bhil community, but they were based on the various texts that are already on record."
The Details of the Cases:-
On 12.01.2020, the Madhya Pradesh Civil Service Examination was held. Regarding specific questions, Surendra Bamnia and Anil Khedkar lodged the complaint, which also marked the Governor, Chief Minister, and Minister of the Department and the Secretary, Public Secretary Public Service Commission. Surendra is the Divisional President, and the Anil Khedkar is the District President of the National Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Youth Sangh. The complaint was filed on 15.01.2020, and on the same day, the F.I.R. was also lodged on the same day itself; regarding this, the Court made the following observation-
"The bench for the first time has observed the greased lighting of the police officers who had received the complaint on 15.01.2020 and without any delay they had lodged an F.I.R. against the officers of the Public Service Commission; if the police work in a similar manner in respect of the other offenses/crime they deserve appreciation, although, the experience is otherwise".
The same day, the letter was sent to the Public Service Commission by the Deputy Superintendent of Police. It provided the necessary information, and as required, occasionally, information was also provided to the Deputy Superintendent of Police. The D.S.P. was made aware of the entire procedure, followed by the Commission. The same was revealed that no Public Service Commission officer was involved during the setting of the question paper or in the business of moderation of the question paper.
The Arguments made by MPPSC-
The Public Service Commission does not come into the picture until the question paper after the examination is brought to the Commission's notice. Moreover, the Commission made it very clear that the question was asked about the book published on the subject. The Commission also put forth that the question paper is made by the subject experts (eminent professors), and the moderation is also done by the experts (eminent professors). The Commission also mentioned that the Paper-setter and Moderator are not the Public Service Commission employees. Even if any mistake is committed in any matter, it cannot be attributed to the Madhya Pradesh Public Service Commission its employees. Additionally, the Madhya Pradesh Public Service Commission Rule Procedure, 2019 that no suit, prosecution, or legal proceeding shall be filed against the Commission in the Examination matters. Lastly, it argued that the MPPSC Rules of Procedure provides immunity to Chairman, member and the other officers regarding any action done by them in good faith, and this contention was made in the light of rule15; the question of taking any action against the petitioner and even against its employees or the other officer bearer does not arise.
The analysis made by the Court:-
Based on the arguments made by both the learned counsel, the Court believed that no action could be taken against the Madhya Pradesh Public Service Commission and its employee nor the officers as they all are not responsible in the matter mentioned above. Even the paper-setter and the moderator were also not liable, keeping in view Rule 15 of the MPPSC Rules of Procedure, 2019. The Court opined-
"The paper setup and moderation were in accordance with the text which is on record and never any action has been taken against the authors and publishers regarding the textbooks which are old textbooks published in the year 2000. The entire exercise of recording a First Information Report seems to be initiated with an oblique and ulterior motive".
The Court referred to the report of the Scheduled Areas and the Tribe Commission, Government of India, which explains the miseries of the tribal and observed-
"The State Government should make all possible endeavors to provide basic amenities to the tribal, to ensure that they are given proper education by establishing institutions (educational institutions, medical institutions, vocational institutions, etc. etc.) to ensure that the tribal's are brought to the mainstream. This Court hopes and trusts that the recommendation of the Government of India made for the Scheduled Tribe Commission are implemented in its true sense."
With those mentioned above, the present Writ Petition stood allowed. The impugned F.I.R. was thereby quashed.
[i] Lalita Kumari v Government of Uttar Pradesh &others (2014) 2 SCC 1