Allahabad High Court| Challenging recruitment process and Physical Eligibility Test for being arbitrary on gender basis unacceptable after unsuccessful participation [Excise Constable Exam-2016]

Allahabad High Court


Allahabad High Court: While dismissing the writ petitions filed challenging the different criteria set for men and women in the Physical Eligibility Test as notified for the Excise Constable (General Selection), Examination 2016, Saurabh Shyam Shamshery, J. held the same to be non-arbitrary in nature.

Petitioners participated in recruitment process to the post of ‘Excise Constable' according to selection procedure prescribed under Uttar Pradesh Direct Recruitment to Group ‘C' Post in pursuance of an Advertisement issued by the U.P. Subordinate Service Selection Board. There were three major issues for consideration:

(a) Whether challenge to Rules of a recruitment process at instance of unsuccessful candidates would be permissible?

(b) Whether different set of criteria/yard stick for Physical Efficiency Test for male and female candidates has allowed arbitrariness being violative of Article 14 of the Constitution?

(c) Arbitrariness if any, has resulted into an anomaly which leads to selection of 143 female candidates i.e. much more than their 20% reserved quota of 81 seats?

Regarding issue (a) Senior advocate for the petitioner argued that petitioners approached this Court before final result was announced and had challenged the criteria of different yardstick for physical efficiency test for male and female being arbitrary. 143 female candidates were selected much beyond to their 20% quota (81 seats) and it is an eventuality which appears after the final result, as expected by the petitioners and therefore, this petition was filed even before final result was announced, therefore, present writ petition still maintainable at instance of the petitioners not withstanding being unsuccessful candidates.

Counsel appearing on behalf of respondents and other Advocates for other respondents opposed above submission that it is settled law that after participation in recruitment process upto the final stage, it is not open for an unsuccessful candidate(s) to challenge the criteria/rules of selection.

The Court reproduced the relevant pats of the judgment in Ashok Kumar v. State of Bihar, (2017) 4 SCC 357 and Ramjit Singh Kardam v. Sanjeev Kumar, (2020) 20 SCC 209 noting that petitioners had participated in the recruitment process with open eyes, having complete knowledge of different criteria of physical efficiency test for male and female, however, when they anticipated likely to be unsuccessful in final result, they approached this Court just before declaration of final result, challenging the entire notification as well as criteria of physical efficiency test. Thus, the Court was of the opinion that the petitioners have to be estopped from challenging recruitment process as well as physical efficiency test being different for male and female after they have participated therein with open eyes.

Regarding issue (b) and (c) Senior Counsel on behalf of petitioners submitted that there was discrimination between male and female candidates in respect of their respective criteria for physical efficiency test being different and it was comparatively easy for female candidates to score more marks in comparison of male candidates.

Counsel for the Subordinate Services Selection Board submitted that criteria for male and female are on different yardstick details thereof were part of advertisement and also, mentioned in earlier part of this judgment. The different criteria were based on basis of different physical ability of a male and a female.

The Court opined that ground of arbitrariness appears to be baseless on face of it and as it is raised without considering the ratio behind fixing of different yardstick for physical efficiency test for male and female. The Court mentioned the examples of the recently held CommonWealth Games where the difference of criteria of physical efficiency test is based on physical strength of a male and a female as in number of research papers it has come that in a normal situation male has more physical strength than her female counterpart.

The argument to challenge criteria of female for physical efficiency test is not only without any legal basis but is also against women empowerment.”

The Court relied on Saurav Yadav vs. State of Uttar Pradesh & Ors, (2021) 4 SCC 542, wherein it has been categorically held if number of female candidates have satisfied their quota and have entered into general list, on their own, merit, then separate list of women candidates is not required. Thus, issue (b) and (c) was accordingly decided against the petitioners. concluding “Women empowerment can make the society powerful.”

[Pramod Kumar Singh v. State of U.P., Writ – A No. – 4225 of 2022, decided on 30-08-2022]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Ajay Kumar Rai, Alok Mishra, Binod Kumar Mishra, Advocates, Counsel for the Petitioner;

C.S.C., Chandan Sharma, Siddharth Singhal, Uday Pratap Singh, Vinit Kumar Sharma, Seemant Singh, Advocates, Counsel for the Respondent.

*Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

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