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Candidates Belonging To Reserved Categories Eligible For General Category Vacancies Based On Merit: Supreme Court

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
20 Dec 2020 6:09 AM GMT
Candidates Belonging To Reserved Categories Eligible For General Category Vacancies Based On Merit: Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court has observed that the candidates belonging to reserved category, are eligible to fill general/open category vacancies also.The bench comprising Justices Uday Umesh Lalit, S. Ravindra Bhat and Hrishikesh Roy held that this principle should also be followed while filling vacancies in horizontal reservations in open category.The Court has disapproved the view taken by...

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The Supreme Court has observed that the candidates belonging to reserved category, are eligible to fill general/open category vacancies also.

The bench comprising Justices Uday Umesh Lalit, S. Ravindra Bhat and Hrishikesh Roy held that this principle should also be followed while filling vacancies in horizontal reservations in open category.

The Court has disapproved the view taken by some High Courts that, at the stage of accommodating candidates for effecting horizontal reservation, the candidates from reserved categories can be adjusted only against their own categories under the concerned vertical reservation and not against the "Open or General Category.

This case pertains to selection process undertaken by State of Uttar Pradesh to fill up 41,610 posts of Police Constables [U.P. Civil Police/Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC)/Fireman]). Ms. Sonam Tomar and Ms. Reeta Rani who had participated in the Selection Process had approached the Court aggrieved with non-consideration of their claim [of OBC female and SC female candidates] against the posts meant for General Category female candidates.

The bench, in its judgment has referred to various earlier judgments of Supreme Court and High Court which deals with the issue of vertical and horizontal reservation. About the former, the bench observed:

The principle that candidates belonging to any of the vertical reservation categories are entitled to be selected in "Open or General Category" is well settled. It is also well accepted that 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.

The court noted that the High Courts of Rajasthan, Bombay, Uttarakhand, and Gujarat have adopted the same principle ( of vertical reservation) while dealing with horizontal reservation whereas the High Court of Allahabad and Madhya Pradesh have taken a contrary view. According to the second view,  at the stage of accommodating candidates for effecting horizontal reservation, the candidates from reserved categories can be adjusted only against their own categories under the concerned vertical reservation and not against the "Open or General Category". Disapproving the second view, the bench observed:

"The second view may lead to a situation where, while making adjustment for horizontal reservation in Open or General Category seats, less meritorious candidates may be adjusted, 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 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 thus 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."

The judgment explains the incongruity of the second view by way of an illustration (Read from Para 26).

Therefore, the court held that all candidates coming from 'OBC Female Category' who had secured more marks than the marks secured by the last candidate appointed in 'General Category–Female' must be offered employment as Constables in Uttar Pradesh Police.

Justice Ravindra Bhat, in his concurring opinion explained the concept of horizontal and vertical reservation

"The quota provided for women, as well as dependents of freedom fighters (DFF) and ex-servicemen, in the present case are characterized as 'horizontal' whereas the quotas for social groups (SCs, STs, OBCs) are characterized as 'vertical'. The coining of this differential terminology is underscored by the fact that the latter is sanctioned explicitly in Article 16(4), whereas the former is evolved through a process of permissible classification (Articles 14, 16(1)), although such horizontal reservations have been located additionally in Article 15(3)14"

Rejecting the State's contention that the women candidates who are entitled to benefit of social category reservations, cannot fill open category vacancies, the judge further observed:

"I would conclude by saying that 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."


CASE: SAURAV YADAV vs. STATE OF UTTAR PRADESH [ M.A. NO.2641 OF 2019 of SLP (CIVIL)NO.23223 OF 2018 ]
CORAM: Justices Uday Umesh Lalit, S. Ravindra Bhat and Hrishikesh Roy

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