Case BriefsHigh Courts

Himachal Pradesh High Court: Ajay Mohan J., dismissing the present petition, reiterated the finding of Supreme Court, in the words, “if a person belonging to Scheduled Caste category or may Scheduled Tribe category, is in a position to gain employment on his own merit by scoring marks at level with persons belonging to General category candidates, then such a candidate has to be offered a post belonging to General category so that other Scheduled Caste/Tribe candidates can be appointed against the posts which are reserved for that particular category.”

 Himachal Pradesh Staff Selection Commission, Hamirpur invited applications for appointment against various posts, dated 28-12-2019. This included the post of Technician Electrical on contract basis. In terms of the advertisement, four posts of Technician Electrical were advertised. Two were advertised under the category of General, one under the category of EWS and one under the category of Scheduled Caste. The petitioner had applied to be considered for appointment against the post in issue as a General Category candidate. The grievance of the petitioner is that the private respondent stands appointed to the post in issue meant for General category, though the private respondent had applied to be considered for the post in issue under the Scheduled Caste Category.

While dismissing the petition, Court observed, “It is settled law of the land that a person belonging to Scheduled Caste category, if on merit, performs better than General category candidates, then he has to be offered appointment against a post meant for General category and he cannot be pushed down so as to occupy a post reserved for Scheduled Caste category only.”[Deepak Kumar v. Himachal Pradesh Staff Selection, 2021 SCC OnLine HP 138, decided on 14-01-2021]


Sakshi Shukla, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the case where OBC female category candidates had challenged the appointment of General category female candidates, who had secured lower marks, as Constables in Uttar Pradesh Police, the 3-judge bench of UU Lalit*, S. Ravindra Bhat** and Hrishikesh Roy, JJ has directed that all candidates coming from ‘OBC Female Category’ who had secured more marks than 274.8928, i.e. the marks secured by the last candidate appointed in ‘General Category–Female’ must be offered employment as Constables in Uttar Pradesh Police.

However, the employment of General Category Females with cut off at 274.8928 are not to be affected in any manner merely because of this judgment.

Background

Pursuant to Supreme Court’s order dated 24.07.2019, selection to the 3295 posts in accordance with merit and consistent with reservation policy of the Government was undertaken by the Uttar Pradesh Government. According to the results declared on 11.11.2019, 188 posts in ‘General Female Category’ were filled up. While doing so, the claim of ‘OBC Female Candidates’ was not considered or taken into account.

The last candidate appointed in the category of ‘General Female’ had secured 274.8298 marks. 21 OBC applicants who secured marks greater than the candidate with 274.8298 challenged the action on part of the State Government in refusing to consider the claim of ‘OBC Female Category’ candidates in respect of ‘General Female Category’ seats.

Lalit, J, for himself and Bhat and Roy, JJ

The Court discussed the views of various High Courts and categorised them as “first view” and the “second view”. The High Courts of Rajasthan, Bombay, Uttarakhand, and Gujarat have adopted the “first view” while dealing with horizontal reservation whereas the High Court of Allahabad and Madhya Pradesh have taken a contrary view i.e. the “second view”.

First view

Candidates belonging to any of the vertical reservation categories are entitled to be selected in “Open or General Category”. If such candidates belonging to reserved categories are entitled to be selected on the basis of their own merit, their selection cannot be counted against the quota reserved for the categories for vertical reservation that they belong.

Second view

According to the second view, different principles must be adopted at two stages; in that:-.

(I) At the initial stage when the “Open or General Category” seats are to be filled, the claim of all reserved category candidates based on merit must be considered and if any candidates from such reserved categories, on their own merit, are entitled to be selected against Open or General Category seats, such placement of the reserved category candidate is not to affect in any manner the quota reserved for such categories in vertical reservation.

(II) However, when it comes to adjustment at the stage of horizontal reservation, even if, such reserved category candidates are entitled, on merit, to be considered and accommodated against Open or General Seats, at that stage the candidates from any reserved category can be adjusted only and only if there is scope for their adjustment in their own vertical column of reservation.

Such exercise would be premised on following postulates: – (A) After the initial allocation of Open General Category seats is completed, the claim or right of reserved category candidates to be admitted in Open General Category seats on the basis of their own merit stands exhausted and they can only be considered against their respective column of vertical reservation. (B) If there be any resultant adjustment on account of horizontal reservation in Open General Category, only those candidates who are not in any of the categories for whom vertical reservations is provided, alone are to be considered. (C) In other words, at the stage of horizontal reservation, Open General Category is to be construed as category meant for candidates other than those coming from any of the categories for whom vertical reservation is provided.

Analysis of both the views

The second view, based on adoption of a different principle at the stage of horizontal reservation as against one accepted to be a settled principle for vertical reservation, may lead to situations where a less meritorious candidate, not belonging to any of the reserved categories, may get selected in preference to a more meritorious candidate coming from a reserved category as has happened in the present matter.

Admittedly, the last selected candidates in Open General female category while making adjustment of horizontal reservation had secured lesser marks than the Applicants. The claim of the Applicants was disregarded on the ground that they could claim only and only if there was a vacancy or chance for them to be accommodated in their respective column of vertical reservation.

The Court further noticed that if the consideration for accommodation at horizontal reservation stage is only with regard to the concerned vertical reservation or social reservation category, the candidates belonging to that category alone must be considered. For example, if horizontal reservation is to be applied with regard to any of the categories of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes or Other Backward Classes, only those candidates answering that description alone can be considered at the stage of horizontal reservation.

“But it is completely different thing to say that if at the stage of horizontal reservation, accommodation is to be considered against Open/General seats, the candidates coming from any of the reserved categories who are more meritorious must be side-lined.”

Noticing that the second view is neither based on any authoritative pronouncement by the Supreme Court nor does it lead to a situation where the merit is given precedence, the Court said that subject to any permissible reservations i.e. either Social (Vertical) or Special (Horizontal), opportunities to public employment and selection of candidates must purely be based on merit.

“Any selection which results in candidates getting selected against Open/General category with less merit than the other available candidates will certainly be opposed to principles of equality. There can be special dispensation when it comes to candidates being considered against seats or quota meant for reserved categories and in theory it is possible that a more meritorious candidate coming from Open/General category may not get selected. But the converse can never be true and will be opposed to the very basic principles which have all the while been accepted by this Court.”

Hence, rejecting the second view, the Court held that it will not only lead to irrational results where more meritorious candidates may possibly get sidelined as indicated above but will, of necessity, result in acceptance of a postulate that Open/General seats are reserved for candidates other than those coming from vertical reservation categories.

Bhat, J in his concurring opinion

“Reservations, both vertical and horizontal, are method of ensuring representation in public services. These are not to be seen as rigid “slots”, where a candidate’s merit, which otherwise entitles her to be shown in the open general category, is foreclosed, as the consequence would be, if the state’s argument is accepted. Doing so, would result in a communal reservation, where each social category is confined within the extent of their reservation, thus negating merit. The open category is open to all, and the only condition for a candidate to be shown in it is merit, regardless of whether reservation benefit of either type is available to her or him.”

[Saurav Yadav v. State of Uttar Pradesh, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 1034, decided on 18.12.2020]


*Justice UU Lalit has penned this judgment. Read more about him here.

** Justice S. Ravindra Bhat has penned a concurrent opinion. Read more about him here

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Orissa High Court: A Division Bench of S. Panda and S. K. Panigrahi JJ., dismissed the petition and called upon the relevant legal stakeholders to ensure that a uniform and well-defined parameter is adopted so that the meritorious candidates do not suffer.

The facts of the case are such that the petitioner has challenged the inaction of opposite party 1 in not considering the application of the petitioner for admission into 5 years BBA LLB (Hons.) Course under NRIs (Non-Resident Indian Sponsored) category for the academic year commencing 2020.

Counsel for the petitioners submitted that when she applied for CLAT (Common Law Admission Test) examination and wanted to apply through NRI quota but selected GENERAL CATEGORY for the same, however, due to COVID outbreak she wasn’t able to modify the quota due to technical glitch on the last date i.e. 15-08-2020. It was further submitted that the petitioner’s name was not found in the merit list where the candidates with a lower rank than that of the petitioner were in the merit list as against NRI/NRIs category.

Counsel for the respondents submitted the petitioner herein has not applied under NRI/NRIs category for the CLAT 2020 Application in spite of several extensions granted to the students by the CLAT Consortium. It was further submitted that there is always the possibility of server down, internet glitch etc. and therefore, it has been advised by the CLAT conducting authority that candidates must apply well before the last date because there tends to be a heavy rush on the use of internet on the last date.

The Court observed that The Opposite Party 1 is bound by the CLAT Rules and Notification. If the petitioner fails to figure in the CLAT 2020 NRI/NRIs category, the Opposite Party 1 cannot change the category of the candidate. Since the petitioner has not applied under NRI/NRIs category in the CLAT 2020 Application, due to the said fact the OP 1 had to reject the candidate’s application.

Court held that changing the category, at this juncture when the admissions are over, would disturb the entire process and jeopardize the interest of so many students.

The Court before disposing off the petition relied on the judgment P. A. Inamdar v. State of Maharashtra, (2005) 6 SCC 537 and observed:

“NRIs category is an affront to the meritorious candidates who toiled day night to secure seats in NLUs through CLAT. The candidates belonging to the category of NRI/NRIs, who are very low ranked in the merit list often gets seat in the NLUs whereas the general candidates having secured better marks also lag behind the NRIS students and get disappointed. This is like the reservation for the elite class and this dubious category of quota is unconstitutional.”[Ishika Pattnaik v. National Law University of Odisha,  2020 SCC OnLine Ori 762, decided on 20-10-2020]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of CJI Ranjan Gogoi and Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, JJ refused to pass any order on whether the issue of 10 per cent reservation for economically weaker sections across all classes will be referred to a Constitution bench. It said it will hear the matter on March 28.

The Court has asked senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for the petitioner, to file a short note of the points which they have raised in their application.

The Court had, on January 25, issued notice to the Central Government on the issue returnable within 4 weeks. It, however, did not stay the operation of the Centre’s decision granting quota to the poor in the general category

Various petitions have been filed by parties including organisations like Janhit Abhiyan and Youth For Equality, challenging the validity of the Constitution (103 Amendment) Act, 2019, which paved the way for grant of quota to poor belonging to general category.

The petition, filed by Youth For Equality, has sought the quashing of the Act saying that the economic criterion cannot be the sole basis for reservation. It says that the said law violates basic feature of the Constitution as reservation on economic grounds cannot be limited to the general categories and the 50 per cent ceiling limit cannot be breached.

The quota as per the new law will be over and above the existing 50 per cent reservation to SCs, STs and Other Backward Classes (OBCs). The Constitution (103 Amendment) Act, 2019 was passed by the Rajya Sabha on 09-01-2019 as The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty- fourth Amendment) Bill, 2019, and was assented to by the President on 12-01-2019.

(Source: PTI) 

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: Agreeing to examine the Centre’s decision to grant 10 % reservation in jobs and education to poor candidates belonging to general category, the bench of Ranjan Gogoi, CJ and Sanjiv Khanna, J issued notice to the Central Government returnable within 4 weeks. The Court, however, did not stay the operation of the Centre’s decision granting quota to the poor in the general category

Various petitions have been filed by parties including organisations like Janhit Abhiyan and Youth For Equality, challenging the validity of the Constitution (103 Amendment) Act, 2019, which paved the way for grant of quota to poor belonging to general category.

The petition, filed by Youth For Equality, has sought the quashing of the Act saying that the economic criterion cannot be the sole basis for reservation. It says that the said law violates basic feature of the Constitution as reservation on economic grounds cannot be limited to the general categories and the 50 per cent ceiling limit cannot be breached.

A similar plea has been filed by businessman Tehseen Poonawalla seeking to quash the law, saying that backwardness for the purpose of reservation cannot be defined by “economic status alone”.

The quota as per the new law will be over and above the existing 50 per cent reservation to SCs, STs and Other Backward Classes (OBCs). The Constitution (103 Amendment) Act, 2019 was passed by the Rajya Sabha on 09-01-2019 as The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty- fourth Amendment) Bill, 2019, and was assented to by the President on 12-01-2019.

(Source: PTI)