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Airmen Exam Qualifying Candidates Petition Delhi HC Against Delay in Results

The petitioners also requested the HC to direct the Centre to ensure that their recruitment is unaffected by Agnipath.
Delhi HC

 

Twenty candidates who had cracked the recruitment exam for Airmen in the Indian Air Force (IAF) Group X Trades (except education instructor) and Group Y (except auto tech, IAF(P), IAF(S) and musician trades) for 2021 petitioned the Delhi High Court (HC) on Monday seeking a direction to the Centre and the Central Airmen Selection Board (CASB) to publish the enrolment list and issue appointment letters.

Arguing before a Bench of Justices Suresh Kumar Kait and Saurabh Banarjee, senior Supreme Court (SC) lawyer Prashant Bhushan, who appeared for the petitioners, said that the recruitment has been delayed for one year and requested the HC to treat the writ petition as urgent.

The petitioners also requested the HC to make a declaration to the effect that the 11.12.2019 IAF notification inviting applications for the post of Airmen shall remain unaffected by the armed forces short-term recruitment scheme Agnipath, which was announced on June 14.

According to the petition, the candidates passed all three phases of recruitment—an online test, a physical fitness test, a group discussion, adaptability tests and a medical examination. Subsequently, a provisional selection list containing the names of the petitioners, the cut-off marks and their positions in the merit list was published on 31.05.2021. Further, the list also stated that the enrolment list containing the names of selected candidates would be published on 10.07.2021. However, the enrolment list was not published.

Later, the CASB made “successive statements” on its official website stating that the results would be delayed due to COVID-19 and administrative reasons. The latest statement released on 31.05.2022 states: “Due to administrative reasons, the enrolment of airmen for Intake 02/21 and declaration of result for STAR 01/2021 online examination are delayed.”

During that time, the petitioners, expecting their joining letters, stopped applying for other jobs with some even refusing to join other places.

After the launch of Agnipath, an IAF notification dated 24.06.2022 invited applications for various posts, including those covered under the 2019 notification. The official website wherein the petitioners could check results has been removed by the Centre and CASB, the petition further stated.

The petitioners submitted that the “decision to annul the entire selection process, which has reached the final stage, only so that the new Agnipath scheme, can be applied by restarting the selection is an arbitrary decision”.

When the additional solicitor general, appearing on behalf of the Centre and the CASB, submitted that a similar matter pending before the SC is likely to come up next week, Bhushan said that mere filing of the petition does not bar the HC from entertaining this case. “There is no law and rule which precludes the High Court from issuing the notice,” he argued.

After recording the submissions, the HC listed the matter for the next hearing after two weeks so that the SC order comes in the meanwhile.

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