Fresh MCSCCE 2016: Old wine in new bottle?

It is a terrible mess. Thanks to the infamous Manipur Public Service Commission (MPSC), the mains examination of the Manipur Civil Services Combined Competitive Exam (MCSCCE) 2016 is going to be re-conducted after a gap of four long years. Following a long and tortuous court battle, the particular civil services examination was quashed by the High Court of Manipur citing gross irregularities, anomalies and lapses.  Apart from quashing the particular civil services exam, the High Court directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to investigate the conduct of the MCSCC (Main) Exam 2016 by the MPSC within a period of three months and take appropriate action thereafter in accordance to law. Following the High Court’s order, 82 candidates selected through the particular recruitment examination and who were already serving in different capacity as Government servants were terminated. This was how MPSC wronged and insulted young civil service officers who burnt midnight oil to get through the exam. It was in October 2019 that the High Court quashed the exam and directed the CBI to investigate the conduct of the exam but it seems CBI has been dragging its feet on the particular case as reflected on their lack of progress.  “....investigate and take appropriate action thereafter in accordance to law...” was what the High Court dictated. The fact that the highest recruitment exam was annulled by the High Court implied that something was very seriously wrong with the MPSC. Hardly any competitive examination conducted by MPSC went off smoothly. In the course of their investigation, CBI even registered an FIR against the commission on January 31 this year.
Earlier, an enquiry committee constituted at the behest of the High Court found a number of disgusting irregularities and discrepancies in the process of conducting the exam. Some of the discrepancies and errors as pointed out in the enquiry report included absence of examiners’ and supervisors’ signatures on a large number of answer sheets, manipulation of marks without signatures of examiners, allotment of marks without evaluating answer sheets etc. Manipur Civil Services Examination 2014 was also not free from controversy. The result of the preliminary examination was declared in three phases between May 13 and 16, 2014, and there were as many as 15 erroneous questions/answer keys. All these shameful antecedents evoke a serious question whether MPSC has any moral right to conduct recruitment exams of such stature as Manipur Civil Services Combined Competitive Exam, particularly when it is under investigation. The call of the three student bodies namely; DESAM, ANSAM and AIMS to put on hold the notification to conduct MCSCCE 2016 afresh till CBI completes its investigation into how the quashed exam was conducted sounds logical enough, particularly so, if one takes into account the tainted history of MPSC. Until and unless the tainted recruitment body is cleansed and purged completely, any recruitment exam conducted by it is most likely to be seen with doubts and suspicion. A fresh examination and another lengthy court battle would be disastrous for all stakeholders. To free all stakeholders, particularly civil services aspirants from this vicious cycle, the demand for complete overhaul of the recruitment body as demanded by several sections of the society must be addressed first. MPSC is indisputably the highest recruitment body in the State. If the highest recruitment body is in such mess, the condition of other subordinate recruitment bodies is best left to the imagination of citizens. When the highest recruitment body is in such ugly mess, it would be too far-fetch to expect clean bureaucracy in the State. Such is the far reaching consequences of twisting civil services recruitment exams. Now the CBI has registered an FIR against unknown officials of MPSC, let’s hope that the investigation brings out the rot in MPSC and all the culprits are nailed in accordance to law. Until then, it would be preferable to keep away MPSC from its responsibility to hold any civil services examination.