The Calcutta High Court has held that imposing examination fee on Scheduled Caste Schedule Tribe applicants to Group D Posts in the High Court is not illegal.
Notification issued by the High Court inviting applications to the Group - 'D' posts on the Original Side and the Appellate Side of the High Court was challenged on the ground that Examination Fee imposed on SC/ST candidates is in violation of Section 4 (b) of the West Bengal Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Reservation of Vacancies in Services and Posts) Act, 1976. While Rs. 400 was charged for all other categories, the SC-ST candidates were required to pay Rs. 150 as Examination fee.
The Reservation Act applicable in the state provides that fees, if any, prescribed for any examination for selection to any service or post shall not be charged in the case of candidates belonging to the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes.
On behalf of the High Court administration, it was contended that the High Court is not an 'Establishment' within the meaning of the Reservation Act and as such, the Act does not apply to appointments to services and posts in the High Court. On the other hand, the petitioners' contention was that since the High Court is not specifically excluded, the Act applies to the High Court.
Justice Arijit Banerjee observed that no administrative decision has been taken by the High Court making the Reservation Act applicable to the High Court for recruitment of the High Court staff. The bench said:
"Of course, it was open to the High Court to make the Act applicable to recruitments made in the High Court administration, but the same has not been done. Hence, I do not find anything wrongful or illegal in fees being charged from all candidates including those belonging to Schedule Castes or Schedule Tribes."
Rejecting the challenge, the bench further observed:
"First, it has to be seen whether the Act at all applies to a particular entity and only then the question of exclusion would arise. In my view, Sec. 3 of the Act merely clarifies that the Act shall not apply to certain employments even if such employments can be said to be in an establishment as defined in Sec. 2(b) of the Act. I find no merit in the first ground urged on behalf of the petitioner."
The other grounds raised in the writ petition were:
Finding no merit in any of these grounds, the court dismissed the writ petition.