Hyderabad: A two-judge panel of the Andhra Pradesh High Court has stayed the operative portion of a single judge bench order that set aside the appointment of around 167 Group I officers in the state.

The panel consisting of Justice Ravi Nath Tilhari and Justice Harinath Nunepally is dealing with an intra court appeal filed by the APPSC.

It was contended by APPSC that, after the notification for recruitment for Group I posts were issued in 2018, it conducted manual revaluation of the answer scripts, as per the court orders, and it was found that it did not match with digital valuation.

Some unsuccessful candidates in the manual evaluation, just before the schedule for oral interviews, filed the writ petitions. These mainly contended that around 62 per cent of those qualified in digital valuation were not qualified in the manual evaluation.

In one of the writ petitions, it was alleged that a manual evaluation took place between December 2021 and February 2022 but the results were not published. It was brought to the notice of the court that the single judge heard the arguments in the batch of writ petitions, reserved the judgment in August 2023 and delivered the impugned judgment in March 2024, almost after a lapse of 7 months.

SS Prasad, senior counsel, appearing for APPSC, contended that the impugned judgment went beyond the scope of the writ petitions, and argued that what was not prayed was granted. He argued that none of the contentions raised by the PSC before the single judge was appreciated.

The direction to conduct manual evaluation afresh is without any basis and was not prayed for, and that all the petitioners were qualified in the mains exam, he submitted.

“Even without challenge to it, in the impugned judgment the single judge directed that the mains exam has to be held afresh.”

Senior counsel Mohan Reddy and Vidya Sagar appearing for the selected officer contended that they have been working as Group I service officers since more than a year; and pending finality of litigation, “they cannot be unseated.”

G. Sudheer and senior counsel Ravishaker Jhandyala represented the successful petitioners. On their behalf, it was stated before the court that “successful writ petitioners are also aggrieved by the directions of the single judge and they too would file writ appeals.”

The division bench passed the interim order and the matter was posted for March 27 for further adjudications.

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