Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a detailed judgment, the bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna, JJ has upheld the Constitutional validity of the reservation for OBC candidates in the AIQ seats for PG and UG  medical and dental courses and noticed that while an open competitive exam may ensure formal equality where everyone has an equal opportunity to participate, however, widespread inequalities in the availability of and access to educational facilities will result in the deprivation of certain classes of people who would be unable to effectively compete in such a system.

It is important to note that considering the urgent need to commence the process of Counselling, the Court had, on January 7, 2022, directed that counselling on the basis of NEET-PG 2021 and NEET- UG 2021 shall be conducted by giving effect to the reservation as provided by the notice dated 29 July 2021, including the 27 per cent reservation for the OBC category and 10 per cent reservation for EWS category in the All India Quota seats. Read here

Purpose of Reservation

The underlying rationale of the reservation policy that seeks to remedy the structural barriers that disadvantaged groups face in advancing in society. Reservation is one of the measures that is employed to overcome these barriers. The individual difference may be a result of privilege, fortune, or circumstances but it cannot be used to negate the role of reservation in remedying the structural disadvantage that certain groups suffer.

Special provisions (like reservation) enable disadvantaged classes to overcome the barriers they face in effectively competing with forward classes and thus ensuring substantive equality. The privileges that accrue to forward classes are not limited to having access to quality schooling and access to tutorials and coaching centres to prepare for a competitive examination but also includes their social networks and cultural capital (communication skills, accent, books or academic accomplishments) that they inherit from their family. The cultural capital ensures that a child is trained unconsciously by the familial environment to take up higher education or high posts commensurate with their family‘s standing. This works to the disadvantage of individuals who are first-generation learners and come from communities whose traditional occupations do not result in the transmission of necessary skills required to perform well in open examination. They have to put in surplus effort to compete with their peers from the forward communities.

On the other hand, social networks (based on community linkages) become useful when individuals seek guidance and advise on how to prepare for examination and advance in their career even if their immediate family does not have the necessary exposure. Thus, a combination of family habitus, community linkages and inherited skills work to the advantage of individuals belonging to certain classes, which is then classified as “merit” reproducing and reaffirming social hierarchies.

What is “merit”?

““Merit” is not solely of one‘s own making. The rhetoric surrounding merit obscures the way in which family, schooling, fortune and a gift of talents that the society currently values aids in one‘s advancement.”

Thus, the exclusionary standard of merit serves to denigrate the dignity of those who face barriers in their advancement which are not of their own making. However,

“While examinations are a necessary and convenient method of distributing educational opportunities, marks may not always be the best gauge of individual merit. Even then marks are often used as a proxy for merit. Individual calibre transcends performance in an examination. Standardized measures such as examination results are not the most accurate assessment of the qualitative difference between candidates.”

At the best, an examination can only reflect the current competence of an individual but not the gamut of their potential, capabilities or excellence, which are also shaped by lived experiences, subsequent training and individual character.

Hence, the meaning of “merit” itself cannot be reduced to marks even if it is a convenient way of distributing educational resources. When examinations claim to be more than systems of resource allocation, they produce a warped system of ascertaining the worth of individuals as students or professionals. Additionally, since success in examinations results in the ascription of high social status as a “meritorious individual”, they often perpetuate and reinforce the existing ascriptive identities of certain communities as “intellectual” and “competent” by rendering invisible the social, cultural and economic advantages that increase the probabilities of success.

For instance, if a high-scoring candidate does not use their talents to perform good actions, it would be difficult to call them “meritorious” merely because they scored high marks. The propriety of actions and dedication to public service should also be seen as markers of merit, which cannot be assessed in a competitive examination. Equally, fortitude and resilience required to uplift oneself from conditions of deprivation is reflective of individual calibre.

Hence. merit should not be limited to individual agency or but it should be envisioned as a social good that advances equality because that is the value that our Constitution espouses.

Whether after graduation, an individual is entitled to reservation on the ground that they belong to a class that suffers from social and educational backwardness?

The Court observed that it cannot be said that the impact of backwardness simply disappears because a candidate has a graduate qualification. Indeed, a graduate qualification may provide certain social and economic mobility, but that by itself does not create parity between forward classes and backward classes. In any event, there cannot be an assertion of over-inclusion where undeserving candidates are said to be benefitting from reservation because OBC candidates who fall in the creamy layer are excluded from taking the benefit of reservation. Thus, we find that there is no prohibition in introducing reservation for socially and educationally backward classes (or the OBCs) in PG courses.

Why is reservation for OBC candidates in the AIQ seats for UG and PG medical and dental courses constitutionally valid?

  • Articles 15(4) and 15 (5) are not an exception to Article 15 (1), which itself sets out the principle of substantive equality (including the recognition of existing inequalities). Thus, Articles 15 (4) and 15 (5) become a restatement of a particular facet of the rule of substantive equality that has been set out in Article 15 (1);
  • Merit cannot be reduced to narrow definitions of performance in an open competitive examination which only provides formal equality of opportunity. Competitive examinations assess basic current competency to allocate educational resources but are not reflective of excellence, capabilities and potential of an individual which are also shaped by lived experiences, subsequent training and individual character. Crucially, open competitive examinations do not reflect the social, economic and cultural advantage that accrues to certain classes and contributes to their success in such examinations;
  • High scores in an examination are not a proxy for merit. Merit should be socially contextualized and reconceptualized as an instrument that advances social goods like equality that we as a society value. In such a context, reservation is not at odds with merit but furthers its distributive consequences;
  • Articles 15 (4) and 15 (5) employ group identification as a method through which substantive equality can be achieved. This may lead to an incongruity where certain individual members of an identified group that is being given reservation may not be backward or individuals belonging to the non-identified group may share certain characteristics of backwardness with members of an identified group. The individual difference may be a result of privilege, fortune, or circumstances but it cannot be used to negate the role of reservation in remedying the structural disadvantage that certain groups suffer;
  • The scheme of AIQ was devised to allot seats in State-run medical and dental institutions in which students from across the country could compete. Providing reservation in the AIQ seats is a policy decision of the Government, which will be subject to the contours of judicial review similar to every reservation policy;
  • Clause 11 of the information bulletin specifies that the reservation applicable to NEET-PG would be notified by the counselling authority before the beginning of the counselling process. Therefore, the candidates while applying for NEET-PG are not provided any information on the distribution of seat matrix. Such information is provided by the counselling authority only before the counselling session is to begin. It thus cannot be argued that the rules of the game were set when the registration for the examination closed.

[Neil Aurelio Nunes v. Union of India, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 75, decided on 20.01.2022]

*Judgment by: Justice Dr. DY Chandrachud


For petitioners: Senior Advocates Arvind Datar, Shyam Divan and Anand Grover and AORs Charu Mathur, Vivek Singh, Subodh S. Patil

For Respondents: SG Tushar Mehta, ASG Nataraj, Additional Solicitor General, ASG Vikramajit Banerjee and Senior Advocates P Wilson, Mariarputham

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The bench of L. Nageswara Rao and Hima Kohli, JJ has held that the formulae for fixing the percentage of reservation for the SC and ST candidates and for determining the percentage of seats to be reserved for OBC candidates under the second proviso of Section 3 of the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act, 2006, ought to be gathered from the same source and any other interpretation would lead to uncertainty.

Factual Background

The Court was hearing the appeal from the judgment of the Manipal High Court wherein it was held that after the amendment of the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act, 2006 , in the year 2012, on introduction of the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Amendment Act, 2012 , Manipur University is required to follow the reservation norms of 2% for the candidates belonging to Scheduled Caste, 31% for the Scheduled Tribes and 17% for the Other Backward Classes for purposes of admission in the University.

The candidates belonging to the SC category and had applied for admission in various Post Graduate courses, had questioned the purported reduction of the quota for SC category candidates from 15%, as prescribed in Section 3 of the Reservation Act to 2% and filed a writ petition in the High Court of Manipur. It was contended that the Amendment Act was legislated to ensure that reservation for SC and ST candidates as prescribed in Section 3 of the Parent Act, should not be reduced from the benchmark of 15% and 7.5% respectively. Rather, the Amendment Act contemplates that the percentage of reservation for SC and ST candidates earmarked in Section 3 of the Parent Act could be increased even to the detriment of the earmarked percentage of reservation for OBC candidates, to ensure that the overall limit of 50% reservation for SC and ST candidates taken collectively, is not disturbed in any manner.


Observing that once the two provisos were inserted in Section 3 of the Parent Act by virtue of the Amendment Act, the general norms of reservation as laid down in Clauses (i), (ii) and (iii) of Section 3 of the Parent Act had to be restricted in terms of the said provisos, the Supreme Court gave the following explanation:

While the first proviso deals with “State seats”, if any, in a CEI situated in tribal areas referred to in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution, the second proviso addresses a situation where there are no State seats in a CEI and the seats reserved for the SC/ST candidates exceeds the percentage specified under Clauses (i) and (ii) of Section 3 (viz., 15% seats for SCs plus 7.5% for STs, totalling to 22.5% seats) or if the combined seats reserved for the SC and ST candidates exceeds the sum total of the percentage as specified under Clauses (i) and (ii).

Two riders have also been dovetailed in the second proviso to Section 3, namely Clauses (a) and (b).

    • Clause (a) of the second proviso, contemplates a situation where seats referred to in the second proviso are less than 50% of the annual permitted strength on the date immediately preceding the date of commencement of the Amendment Act.
    • Clause (b) provides for a situation where such seats are over 50% of the annual permitted strength on the date immediately preceding the date of commencement of the Amendment Act.

In a situation contemplated in Clause (a) of the second proviso, a restriction has been imposed on the total percentage of seats required to be reserved for OBC candidates under Section 3(iii) of the Parent Act by limiting them to the balance seats available after factoring in the combined percentage of seats specified in Clauses (i) and (ii) of Section 3 of the Parent Act, falling short of 50% of the annual permitted strength.

But in circumstances contemplated in Clause (b), the Act recognizes the fact that no seats need be reserved for the OBC candidates under Clause (iii) of Section 3 of the Parent Act. However, this is subject to the condition that the extent of reservation of seats for SC and ST candidates shall not be reduced when it comes to CEIs established in “Specified north eastern region”.

“This goes to demonstrate that the underlying intent of the Amendment Act was to secure a particular percentage of seats through reservation for a set of candidates and leave some space for capping of seats for OBC candidates, depending on the circumstances contemplated in Clauses (a) and (b) of the second proviso to the amended Section 3.”

The Court, hence, held that the reference point of the period for determining the reservation quota for OBC candidates must be the same as that of the SC and ST candidates for the simple reason that for working out the reservation quota for OBC candidates would necessarily require one to find out in the first instance, as to what would be the difference between 50% of the annual permitted strength and the combined existing percentage for the SC and ST candidates, as obtained on the date immediately preceding the date of commencement of the Reservation Act.

It was observed that,

“Both the issues are so interlaced that to determine the percentage of reservation for OBC candidates, one would have to undertake an exercise of determining the percentage of seats to be reserved for SC and ST candidates, all within the four corners of the second proviso inserted in Section 3 of the Parent Act. Any other interpretation sought to be assigned to the second proviso to Section 3 inserted post-amendment, would make the proviso itself unworkable and redundant and is, therefore, impermissible.”

The Court made clear that the general rules of reservation have been encapsulated in Clauses (i), (ii) and (iii) of Section 3 of the Parent Act. But when it comes to CEIs established in States falling under the definition of “Specified north eastern region”, categorized in Section 2(ia) introduced by the Amendment Act, the two new provisos appended to Section 3 would govern the norms of reservation which prescribes a different criteria, vis-à-vis the main provision and would apply irrespective of whether they are situated in areas covered by the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution or not.

[Shri Kshetrimayum Maheshkumar Singh v. Manipal University, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 12, decided on 05.01.2022]

*Judgment by: Justice Hima Kohli


For appellant: Advocate Punam Kumari

For Respondents: Advocates Ashutosh Dubey, Shivendra Dwivedi

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The bench of L. Nageswara Rao v. BR Gavai*, JJ has set aside the judgment of the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court wherein it was held that the reservation of the Office of Mayor for the Dhule Municipal Corporation for Backward Class (OBC) for a second term, coupled with the fact that there has been no reservation for the Scheduled Caste category, amounted to violation of rotation policy.


  • The respondent No.1 though belongs to the Scheduled Caste category, was elected as a Councillor to the Dhule Municipal Corporation from the General category. By the Notification dated 27th November 2019, the Office of Mayor in the said Corporation was earmarked for Backward Class of Citizens for the next term of two and half years commencing from June, 2021.
  • Respondent number 1 challenged the aforementioned Notification on the ground that from the year 2003 onwards, the Office of Mayor in the said Corporation was reserved for Backward Class category on various occasions, but was not reserved for Scheduled Caste category.
  • Bombay High Court held that the reservation of the Office of Mayor for the Dhule Municipal Corporation for Backward Class (OBC) for a second term even without any reservation for Scheduled Caste category.
  • The said judgment was challenged on the ground that the import of Clauses (d) and (e) of sub­rule (2) of Rule 3 of the Maharashtra Municipal Corporations (Reservation of Offices of Mayors) Rules, 2006 was not considered by the High Court while deciding the matter.


Interpreting a Statute

Explaining the rules for interpreting a Statute, the Court said,

“… the Court will have to prefer an interpretation which makes the Statute workable. The interpretation which gives effect to the intention of the legislature, will have to be preferred. The interpretation which brings about the effect of result, will have to be preferred than the one which defeats the purpose of the enactment.”

It is the duty of the Court to construe the Statute as a whole and that one provision of the Act has to be construed with reference to other provisions so as to make a consistent enactment of the whole Statute.

“It is the duty of the Court to avoid a head-on clash between two sections and construe the provisions which appear to be in conflict with each other in such a manner so as to harmonise them.”

Further, while interpreting a particular statutory provision, it should not result into making the other provision a “useless lumber” or a “dead letter”. While construing the provisions, the Court will have to ascertain the intention of the law¬making authority in the backdrop of dominant purpose and   the underlying intendment of the Statute

The Legislative Intent behind the Rules in question

The impugned Rules are mechanism for giving effect to the constitutional mandate under Article 243T of the Constitution of providing reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and the   enabling provision for providing reservation for Backward Class of Citizens in proportion to their population.

The intent and the dominant purpose of Rule 3 of the said Rules is to provide reservation to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Backward Class of Citizens and Women and further to ensure that there is no  repetition  of reservation  of  a particular category  in a particular Corporation.

The intent of the said Rules is to give effect to the reservation policy while ensuring that reservations are not repeated in particular Corporations and at the same time in all the Corporations, there shall be reservation, at some point of time, for all the eligible categories by rotation.

The legislative intent is to exclude the Corporations which were earlier reserved for a particular category until all the categories are provided reservation.  However, while doing so, the Court will have to interpret Rule 3 of the said Rules in such a manner that this scheme is made workable and not frustrated.

True import of the Rules in question

The Court took note of the dominant purpose and the legislative intent of the said Rules which is to provide reservation in proportion of the population of such categories in the Municipal areas and also to ensure that while all the eligible Corporations get reservation at some point of time for the different categories, at the same time there would be no repetition of reservation until the rotation   is complete. However, while doing so, the number of seats reserved for a particular category also cannot be ignored.

“… the total number of seats reserved for Scheduled Castes are 3 whereas for Backward Class of citizens, they are 7. Sub-rule (2) of Rule 3 of the said Rules prescribes the manner in which the seats are to be allotted to be reserved for various categories including women. Clause (a) thereof provides that it shall be done by notification in the Official Gazette by allotment of draw of lots. Clause (d) thereof provides that while drawing lots, the offices of Mayors reserved for such category in the earlier years shall be excluded from the draw of lots for those categories. Clause (e) thereof provides that the offices of Mayors to be reserved shall be rotated in   the subsequent terms of office of Mayor to such Corporation, in which no reservation has been made in the previous terms until such reservations are given by rotation to each category.”

Applying the rules of interpretation, the Court noticed that at the first blush, an isolated reading of clause (e) is capable of being interpreted in a manner that until reservation is provided for each category by rotation, the said office cannot be reserved for a category for which it was already reserved. However, if the Rules along with Article 243T of the Constitution and Section 19(1A)[1] of the Maharashtra Municipal Corporations Act, 1949 are read as a whole, then the dominant purpose behind the said Rules appears to be that the reservation as mandated in the Constitution, should be provided for offices of Mayors in the Corporations.

“While doing so, the reservation has to be provided by a draw of lots. It has to be ensured that at any given point of time, the number of offices of Mayors reserved for such categories should not be less than the number determined in accordance with the provisions of sub-rule (1) of Rule 3 of the said Rules.”

Clause (d) of sub-rule (2) of Rule 3 of the said Rules also provides that while drawing lots, the offices of Mayors reserved for such category in the earlier years, shall be excluded from the draw of lots for those categories. The purpose appears to ensure that the reservation is not thrust upon a particular Corporation again and again and all the Corporations, at some point of time, will have the office of Mayor reserved for particular category in accordance with the said Rules.

The Court explained,

“The office of Mayor can be reserved for Scheduled Tribes in only 9 Corporations whereas all the Corporations are eligible for reservation for Scheduled Castes and Backward Class of Citizens.  However, taking into consideration the fact that the number of seats reserved for Scheduled Castes are 3 whereas for Backward Class of Citizens, they are 7 i.e. more than twice,  it is quite probable that the post of Mayor could be reserved for two earlier terms for Backward Class of Citizens and whereas no reservation is provided for Scheduled Castes.”

The Court noticed that a harmonious construction of the said Rules would not lead to a conclusion that the procedure as followed by the State Government in allotting the reservation by draw of lots, would be said to be inconsistent with the scheme of the said Rules.

The Court then took note of the following facts,

  • After excluding 12 Corporations which are already reserved for Scheduled Castes in the earlier years and the one which was reserved for Scheduled Tribes in the first draw of lots, there were 14 Corporations available including the Dhule Municipal Corporation.
  • The said Corporation was also included in the draw of lots for Scheduled Castes. However, in the draw of lots, it could not be reserved for Scheduled Castes.
  • However, insofar as Backward Class is concerned, out of 27 Corporations, 26 Corporations excluding newly created Panvel Corporation were already reserved for Backward Class in the earlier years.
  • As such, the State excluded the 7 Corporations which were immediately reserved for the Backward Class and also excluded the 4 Corporations which were reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the present draw of lots.
  • Coincidentally, in the draw of lots, Dhule Municipal Corporation was one of the 7 Corporations which got to be reserved for the Backward Class.

The Court, hence, held that such a situation is bound to occur in view of the difference in number of seats, reserved for Scheduled Castes and Backward Class of Citizens.

“If the interpretation as placed is to be accepted then unless the post of Mayor is reserved for Scheduled Tribes in all the Corporations to complete the rotation, it will not be possible to provide reservation for the categories which were already reserved earlier.  However, it could be seen that as per the Rules, only 9 Corporations could be reserved for Scheduled Tribes.”

[Sanjay Ramdas Patil v. Sanjay, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 650, decided on 01.09.2021]

[1] “19. Mayor and Deputy Mayor

(1) …

(1A) There shall be reservation for the office of the Mayor   in   the   Corporation,   by   rotation,   for   the Scheduled   Castes,   the   Scheduled   Tribes,   women and   the   Backward   Class   of   citizens,   in   the prescribed manner.”

Judgment by: Justice BR Gavai

Know Thy Judge| Justice B.R. Gavai

Appearances before the Court:

For appellants: Senior Advocate Meenakshi Arora and Advocate Braj Kishore Mishra

For the State of Maharashtra: Advocate Sachin Patil

For Respondent: Advocate Nishant Ramakantrao Katneshwarkar

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: The Division Bench of Sanjib Banerjee, CJ and P.D. Audikesavalu, J. while addressing the contempt petition, expressed that,

Merely because the immediate lis pertains to the contempt jurisdiction would not imply that this court sheds its plenary authority under Article 226 of the Constitution while considering the manner of implementation of the said order. 

Rather than the caste system being wiped away, the present trend seems to perpetuate it by endlessly extending a measure that was to remain only for a short duration to cover the infancy and, possibly, the adolescence of Republic. Though the life of a nation state may not be relatable to the human process of aging, but at over-70, it ought, probably, to be more mature.

Factual Background

Petitioner is stated to be a political party, one which has returned to power in this State following the Assembly elections conducted a few months back. Most major political parties in the State had filed the other petition that came to be decided the Order dated 27-07-2020 (“the said order”).

Petitions that were decided by the said order sought implementation of reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBC) in the All India Quota (AIQ) of the seats surrendered by the State for admission to the under-graduate, post-graduate and diploma medical and dental courses in the State. Reservation implementation was sought from 2020-21.

Request for interim relief, was rejected with the observation that this court was justified in holding that since the selection process for the relevant academic year had commenced, the same could not be disturbed. However, the appeals remain pending and, in such sense, the order of this Court of July 27, 2020, has not attained finality, though there is no impediment to it being implemented in academic year 2021-22.

Analysis, Law and Decision

While addressing the matter, Court observed that,

If a pool of seats is available to candidates from all over the country, irrespective of an individual’s place of residence, the State-wise reservation, which is based on demography of the State, cannot hold good for the entire country as the mix of socially backward classes would differ from region to region even within a State.

Court added that, Ordinarily, reservations pertaining to admission to educational institutions and appointments to government service are provided by statutory enactments or rules under a particular statute.

Difficulty, in the present case, arises in the fact that the present contempt petition arises out of an order which has been carried to the Supreme Court by way of an appeal and an interim order in the appeal observed as to the import of the order dated July 27, 2020

To elaborate more, the Bench added that the matter is of some importance as the careers of not only the prospective all-India candidates in the medical entrance seats surrendered by the State in the AIQ would be affected by the present order, it may also have an all-India impact, subject to what may ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court.

Coming to the question, whether the said order of this Court has been complied with?

Bench noted that:

to the extent that a committee was constituted and the committee made its recommendations, the order has been complied with. However, the order may not have contemplated that neither recommendation of the committee would be accepted and a third alternative would be imposed by the Union, though the order required consultation between several stakeholders to arrive at an informed decision. Equally, the first option indicated by the committee was no option at all, as it was absurd to suggest that the State reservation rules would apply to AIQ seats for admission to the under-graduate, post- graduate and diploma medical and dental courses in the State since that would, ipso facto, take the seats away from the AIQ pool back to the State as only backward classes as notified by the State in its official gazette would be entitled to the reservation and not candidates not resident in the State.

Adding to the above, Court expressed that, it is true that the petition before this Court is one for the perceived breach of a previous order of this court, but if the present petition were to be ineffectively disposed of that would result in another petition, multiplicity of proceedings and the issue being left unresolved.

It may be in the public interest, at times, for courts to be decisive, without being rash, of course.

At least there is a safety net even if this court goes wrong for the matter to be decided at the highest stage; but a decision is called for in the matter in the larger public interest.

Analyzing further, the Bench stated that the AIQ scheme had been introduced for entrance to under-graduate and post-graduate degrees and diploma courses in government-run or aided medical and dental colleges across the country pursuant to orders of the Supreme Court.

To the extent that 27 per cent of the seats available for admission in Central educational institutions is reserved for OBC candidates, other than the creamy layer, and such figure having been arrived at upon empirical studies being conducted, the provision for 27 per cent reservation for OBC candidates, in addition to the approved reservation for scheduled caste and scheduled tribe candidates as indicated in the notification of July 29, 2021, may be permissible, subject to the formal approval of the Supreme Court being obtained in such regard.

Another significant point expressed by the Court was that, if the AIQ seats are thrown open to candidates across the country, there cannot be reservation to one extent in one State and reservation to another extent in another State.


  1. Since the committee required to be constituted by the order dated July 27, 2020, was constituted and such committee gave its opinion and the Union, or its appropriate agencies, have acted on the basis thereof – albeit not exactly in terms of the recommendations – no case of wilful or deliberate violation of the said order can be said to have been made out.
  2. The notification of July 29, 2021, issued by the Union as a consequence of the order dated July 27, 2020, appears to be in order insofar as it provides for reservation for scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and OBC categories. The horizontal reservation provided in such notification for persons with disabilities also appears to be in accordance with law.
  3. The additional reservation provided for economically weaker sections in the notification of July 29, 2021, cannot be permitted, except with the approval of the Supreme Court in such regard.

In view of the above, contempt petition was dropped.

“…entire concept of reservation that appears to have been addressed by the Constituent Assembly while framing the Constitution may have been turned on its head by repeated amendments and the veritable reinvigoration of the caste system – and even extending it to denominations where it does not exist – instead of empowering citizens so that merit may ultimately decide matters as to admission, appointment and promotion.”

 [Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam v. Rajesh Bhushan, 2021 SCC OnLine Mad 4851, decided on 25-08-2021]

 Advocates before the Court:

For the Petitioner: Mr. P. Wilson, Senior Advocate for M/s. P. Wilson Associates

For the Respondents: Mr. K.M. Nataraj

Additional Solicitor-General of India assisted by Mr. V. Chandrasekaran

Senior Panel Counsel for respondents 1, 2, 4 and 8

: Mr. P. Muthukumar Counsel for the State for respondents 6 and 9

: Ms. Shubharanjini Ananth Standing Counsel  for 3rd respondent

: Service awaited for respondents 5 and 7

Legislation UpdatesNotifications

On July 29, 2021, the Government has announced 27% reservation for the OBCs (Other Backward Classes) and 10% quota for the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) in the All India Quota (AIQ) scheme for undergraduate (UG) and postgraduate (PG) medical / dental courses (MBBS / MD / MS / Diploma / BDS / MDS) from 2021-22 onwards.

Source: PIB

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: The Division Bench of Alexander Thomas and K. Babu, JJ., held that rejection of the candidature of the respondent from the OBC category on the mere ground of belated submission of the relevant OBC-NCL certificate was violative of Article 14 and 16 of the Constitution. The Bench stated,

“The respondent has clearly stated in letter dated 27-07-2018 that she was under rest and was unable to travel as advised by her gynecologist due to difficulties during pregnancy period and hence was unable to produce OBC-NCL certificate valid for the period mentioned in the notification along with the application and she undertook that she can produce OBC-NCL certificate before the recruitment cell at any time.”

Facts of the Case

The present appeal had been filed against the order of the Single Judge, wherein, Single Judge, after appreciating the rival contentions on the basis of the materials placed before the Court, has rejected the contentions of the appellants and had interfered with the impugned decision to reject the candidature of the respondent in the OBC-NCL category and directed the appellants to accept the respondent’s certificate and treat her as one eligible, who belongs to OBC-NCL category and to include her in select list for the OBC-NCL reservation within two weeks.

The respondent belonged to OBC, non-creamy layer category. She had applied for the post of Technical Assistant, Chemistry in response to the notification issued by the appellant-Indian Institute Of Science Education and Research inviting applications for appointment for which one vacancy each was notified in general category, OBC and Scheduled Caste category. Later on, her representation was cancelled owing to delay in submission of non-creamy layer certificate.

According to the appellants, as per condition No.10 in the selection notification, a candidate who had not produced a non-creamy layer certificate for the relevant financial year would not be eligible to be considered under the OBC category. The appellants further contended that, during verification of documents, since the respondent had not submitted the valid OBC -NCL certificate along with her application, she was short listed under general category. As the respondent failed to produce the required OBC – NCL certificate, she was placed at second position in the waiting list of UR (unreserved) category in select list. Since, the respondent was unsuccessful in producing the required OBC-NCL certificate, for the current financial year, along with the application and that she failed to state any reason for not submitting the same for the relevant period during the submission of the online application she was declared unsuccessful.

Analysis and Findings of the Court

The crucial question before the Court was whether the selection notification dated had insisted that the candidates concerned should necessarily produce OBC-NCL certificate at the time of submission of the application. Clause 26 of the selection notification clearly provided for four steps under the caption, “How to apply”. Step 4 mentioned there was very crucial and relevant for the present case and it read as follows: “Step 4 – take a print out of the completed application form, attach proof of payment and forward the same along with self attested copies of the certificates for educational qualifications and experience, as claimed in the application, by registered post/ speed post only in a sealed cover superscribing ‘application for the post of ……….., postcode ……’ on or before 30.11.2017 to the Registrar.”

Hence, after reading Clause 26 along with step 4 therein read with Clause 11, the Bench opined that that what was directed to be attached along with the hard copy of the application were certificates to prove educational qualification, experience and community. Therefore, OBC-NCL certificate was not included. Therefore, there was no obligation that copy of the OBC-NCL certificate for the current year should compulsorily be produced along with the hard copy of the application on or before the last date of 30-11-2017.

Clause 10 clearly stipulated that the norms issued by the Government of India on 17-08-2017 to relax the earlier rigorous conditions would be applicable in the instant case. According to said norms and as per the order of the Supreme Court in S.L.P.(C) No.3116/2017 in Union of India v. Abdul Rasheed, the Staff Selection Commission considered the matter regarding relaxation of the time limit in producing OBC certificates within the cut off period and that based on the approval of the Union Government in the Department of Personnel & Training as well as the Department of Legal Affairs, it is ordered that with effect from 23-01-2017, (date of the abovesaid S.L.P. Order), insistence will not be made for production of the requisite OBC certificate before the last date of receipt of the applications, etc. It was further mentioned that,

“Where document verification has already been completed and the final result was declared after 23.1.2017 or is yet to be declared, the candidate may produce prima facie proof of being OBC, if already not produced, to enable the Commission for consideration/ processing of their claim under OBC category. Further that such candidature of OBC candidates will remain provisional and subject to verification.”

Accordingly, the candidates were required to make the claim for reservation benefits like OBC-NCL in the application form which was to be submitted before the prescribed last date and those candidates who had not produced the reservation eligibility certificates like OBC-NCL certificate would have to produce it before the selection authorities within a reasonable time. Hence, the OBC-NCL certificate need not be produced along with the application before the last date and the candidate would have to later produce the said certificate before the selection authority within a reasonable time.

Therefore, not granting reasonable time to a candidate for production of OBC-NCL certificate would amount to violation of Clause 26 and Clause 10 read with Government norm any interpretation to the contrary would defeat the principles of affirmative action, equity and justice/reasonableness and fairness which are intrinsic in Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution.

Rejecting the contention of the appellants that government norm and decisions in Abdul Rasheed’s case would apply only for grant of more time for production of OBC certificate and the same will not govern the issue of grant of more time for submission of NCL certificate, the Bench clarified,

“Only if the candidate concerned can establish that he/she belongs to OBC, can she/he establish the claim for NCL. So if more time is to be granted for submission of OBC certificate, then necessarily the same will apply for submission of NCL certificate as well. Moreover, this contention is highly hyper-technical, as the OBC-NCL certificate issued by the competent authority is a comprehensive one.”

In the instant case, the application submitted by the respondent was before the prescribed last date, she had also produced certificate dated 12-04-2016 certifying her OBC status and incidentally it was to be noted that that certificate also certified her NCL eligibility. The issue was only in regard to the variation of income for the year 2017-18. In view of the abovesaid aspects, the Bench held that, the considered findings made by the learned Single Judge in the impugned judgment in the in favour of the respondent interdicting with the impugned decision of the appellants that led to the rejection of her candidature for the post of Technical Assistant (Chemistry) reserved for OBC-NCL, could not be said to be illegal, wrong or perverse. Therefore, the Bench remarked,

 “Rejection of the candidature of the respondent from the OBC category on the mere ground of belated submission of the relevant OBC-NCL certificate will only result in virtually throwing out a meritorious candidate with extensive research experience, in the facts and circumstances of this case. This will only lead to a situation where the rights and opportunities guaranteed to the respondent under Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India will be flagrantly violated.”

[Indian Institute of Science Education and Research v. Smitha V S, 2021 SCC OnLine Ker 2483, decided on 07-04-2021]

Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Appearance before the Court by:

For the Appellants: Sr. Adv. Sumathy Dandapani and Adv. Millu Dandapani

For the Respondent: Adv. S.P.Aravindakshan Pillay, Adv. N.Santha, Adv. Peter Jose Christo, Adv. S.A.Anand and Adv. L.Annapoorna

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: A Division Bench of Ravi Malimath and R.C. Khulbe, JJ., allowed a writ petition filed by the petitioner aggrieved by the order of the Commission rejecting his caste certificate because of which he was unable to avail reservation and appear for the interview.

The respondent had issued a notification for the post of Uttarakhand Judicial Services Civil Judge (Junior Division) Examination-2019, for selection of 15 posts by way of direct recruitment. By a corrigendum, the number of vacancies were increased from 15 to 28. Out of these vacancies, the reservations were demarcated. The petitioner had applied as a candidate belonging to the un-reserved category. It was indicated that the cut-off marks for the unreserved category was 145.75 marks, whereas the petitioner had secured 141.75 marks. The petitioner, being convinced that he had received less marks filed the instant writ petition seeking for a writ, to direct the respondents to examine the veracity of the answers. Errors were noticed in the marks awarded. On considering the same, the Court was of the view that the petitioner would be entitled to 5 more marks making him eligible to write the main examination and consequently he wrote the main exam. In the interregnum, petitioner had filed an application before respondent 1 to consider him as a candidate belonging to the OBC category which was denied by the respondent. Thereafter, an application was filed seeking for additional prayers to quash the impugned order rejecting the plea of the petitioner to declare that he is entitled to be considered under the OBC category; and to direct the respondent-Commission to revise the result of the examination, and consequential reliefs.

The counsel for the respondent, B.D. Kandpal contended that petitioner was not a domicile of the State of Uttarakhand, and therefore, was disqualified from writing the exam and that the petitioner had applied under the unreserved category while filling up the form for the preliminary exam because of which he cannot be allowed to change the category to OBC.

The cut off for the general merit category is 50%, namely, 425 marks, and for the OBC category, it is 40%, namely 340 marks. He secured 388 marks out of 850 marks which make the petitioner ineligible to appear for the interview while in the un-reserved category. However, what is relevant herein is that the caste certificate was produced by the petitioner before the respondent-Commission which was rejected by them.

The Court while allowing the petition explained that the certificate entitling the petitioner, as belonging to the OBC category, was issued to him before the last date of filing the documents, therefore, respondent should have rightly considered the petitioner as belonging to the OBC category. The Court relying on a Supreme Court judgment stated “There is a difference between ‘fact’ and ‘proof’. There can be no relaxation so far as facts are concerned. The fact is that the candidate must belong to a category which he claims. The proof is a submission of material in proof of such a claim. Therefore, even if there is a delay in submitting the proof of the claim, the same can be condoned.”

The order of rejection passed by the respondent was quashed and it was directed to consider the writ petitioner as a candidate belonging to the OBC category for the purposes of the main examination along with making sure that petitioner participates in the interview to be held by the Commission during 17th to 19th September, 2020 as an OBC candidate.[Ishank v. Uttarakhand Public Service Commission, 2020 SCC OnLine Utt 549, decided on 15-09-2020]

Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Division Bench comprising of V.K. Tahilramani, Acting CJ, and M.S. Sonak, J. dismissed a writ petition filed challenging the order of Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal (MAT) whereby the claim of the petitioner to be appointed as a peon in the office of Deputy Conservator of Forests was dismissed.

The petitioner had applied for the said post in pursuance of the advertisement issued by the respondents. The post was for the reserved category and the petitioner belonged to the Other Backward Classes. He obtained 90 marks in the written test equal to the marks secured by Respondent 4, who was finally appointed to the said post on the basis of higher qualifications. The petitioner challenged the appointment before the MAT, which was dismissed. Feeling aggrieved, the petitioner was before the High Court.

The High Court perused Rule 4(3) of Maharashtra Civil Services (Regulation of Seniority) Rules 1982, on which reliance was placed by the petitioner. The said Rule provides that if two persons were appointed on the same date, the person with the earlier date of birth would be placed at a higher position in the seniority list. On the same analogy it was contended that in case of candidates securing equal marks, the candidate with the earlier date of birth should be appointed. The Court held the contention of the petitioner to be misconceived as much as the said Rule pertains to the matter of seniority in service and could not be applied in the matter of appointment. Holding thus, the Court found no fault in the order impugned. Accordingly, the petition was dismissed. [Yogehsh H. Mhaskar v.  State of Maharashtra, 2018 SCC OnLine Bom 1157, dated 03-05-2018]