CAT quashes appointment of news anchors in Prasar Bharati

The Tribunal headed by Chairman V K Bali cancelled the appointment of the journalists on the ground that rules for appointment were changed arbitrarily at the last moment at the interview stage to pave the way for some candidates who did not perform well in the written test.

The Tribunal noted that the number of journalists to be called for interview was increased from 30 to 35 to accommodate Yashvi Tirath (daughter of Union Minister Krishna Tirath) who ranked 33 in the written exam.

"The Prasar Bharati changed the weightage fixed for the interview from 25 per cent to 33 per cent on the eve of the interview, when the merit of the candidates on the basis of the three preceding tests was known. Not only this the number of candidates to be called for interview was also increased from 30 to 35 for Grade III.

"Yashvi Tirath, for example, was 33rd in the merit before interview. She was awarded 90 marks in the interview. This is a glaring example of arbitrariness obviously to favour her," the Tribunal said.

The Tribunal said that another candidate Anita Kalra Kalha was arbitrarily recommended when she had not applied for it and had not appeared in the audition test for the same.
"The marking in the interview also seems to be quite arbitrary as some of the candidates seen to be very high in the merit list before the interview have completely floundered on the rocks of interview. The selected candidates have marks in the range of 85 to 90 in the interview, whereas the candidates who were rejected are trailing far behind though they had done well in other tests," the Tribunal said.

The Tribunal after hearing all the sides came to the conclusion that the public broadcaster has failed to give any satisfactory explanation about the irregularities which have taken place in conducting the test.

"We are of the opinion that the process of selection for the posts in question suffers from arbitrariness and irregularities have been committed in the process, which has vitiated the whole process," it said.

"All the circumstances point towards misuse of marks in the interview, especially in view of the fact that the weightage of marks in interview was raised only two days prior to the interview and after the merit list for other tests was available and also because of the fact that the number of persons to be called for interview has also been increased after the above mentioned merit list in other three tests was available," it said.

The order of the Tribunal came on a petition filed by a journalist, working with DD News channel, who had alleged that the recruitment process in Prasar Bharati was not fair and candidates were selected on the basis of political considerations.

"The entire selection process is vitiated as the recommendation of candidates has been made most arbitrarily on the basis of pick and choose policy and the selection process smacks of favouritism and nepotism," advocate Sanjai Pathak appearing for the petitioner had contended.

He had alleged that special tests were conducted for two selected candidates two months after all the applicants appeared in the examination and some other candidates were allowed to appear for interview without appearing in mandatory written exam.
"At least two of the selected candidates are directly connected to influential politicians. One of the successful candidates is closely related to the Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting and another successful candidate is the daughter of a local MP," the petitioner had alleged in his petition.

Reacting to the order, Prasar Bharati counsel Arun Bhardwaj said an appeal would soon be filed in the Delhi High Court.

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