In February, this year, the Indian Railways had initiated a huge recruitment drive to fill around 1.6 lakh vacancies for posts like assistant loco pilots, technicians, gangmen, switchmen, trackmen, cabinmen, welders, helpers and porters in Group C and D. The assessments that began in August were to go on till October.
However, the fate of 2.37 crore job aspirants who had applied for these posts is now uncertain, as a PIL has been filed in Delhi High Court challenging the appointment of TCS iON by the railways for conducting the computer-based test (CBT).
“The Central Vigilance Commission has repeatedly reiterated the need for transparency in the award of contracts by the government and its instrumentalities,” the petition says.
The petition has been filed by Shailendra Sharma who has alleged that the ministry of railways and the Railway Recruitment Control Board (RRCB) had awarded the contract for conducting the computer-based recruitment test to TCS iON on nomination, instead of following a bidding process. The petitioner claims that the Railways violated the norms and undermined the guidelines of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC).
Lawyer Jagjit Singh received the notice on behalf of the railways and the RRCB and the next date of hearing is fixed for December 10.
It was in 2015 that the Indian Railways entered into a MoU with TCS iON in 2015 for conducting online exams. In 2016-17, TCS won the contract to conduct the examinations after a bidding round organized by the Railways charging around Rs 100 per candidate (for the ones who appeared). In 2016-17 around 90 lakh applicants took the exam.
Later in In February, the railways had floated a tender for empanelment of examination conducting agencies with a closing date of February 28. However, on 22nd February it issued a public notice stating the date of submission of RFQ documents had been postponed and a fresh date would be notified. Interestingly, on June 25 it discharged the tender without assigning any reasons through a public notice.
Earlier, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal had described the recruitment drive as one of the NDA government’s biggest achievements. He had tweeted that the Indian Railways has made its upcoming recruitment drive completely online, enhancing transparency and fairness in the process.