SC/ST merit list candidate to have quota benefit
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Last Updated: Saturday, May 08, 2010, 00:11
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday upheld the Constitutional validity of civil services examination rule giving the option of availing quota benefit to reserved category candidates making it to the merit list in the general category, saying it protects the interests of underprivileged.

A five-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, said allowing such migration was to "arrest arbitrariness and to protect interests of meritorious reserved category candidates."

However, it made it clear that "seats vacated by meritorious reserved category candidates in the General Pool will be offered to General category candidates."

The Bench set aside the decision of the Madras High Court holding as ultra vires Rule 16(2) of the UPSC.

The apex court in an unanimous verdict said "Rule 16 protects the interests of Reserved Category candidate selected in the general (unreserved) category by giving him the option either to retain his position in the open merit category or to be considered for a vacancy in the Reserved Category.

"The need for incorporating such a provision is to arrest arbitrariness and to protect the interests of the Meritorious Reserved Category candidates," it said.

Holding that the rule in essence protects the pledge outlined in the Preamble of the Constitution, the Bench said by its operation, the reserved status of meritorious reserved category candidate is protected as his better performance does not deny him of chance to be allotted to more preferred service.

"If such rule is declared redundant and unconstitutional vis-a-vis Article 14, 16 and 335 then the whole object of equality clause in the Constitution would be frustrated and the meritorious reserved category candidates selected as per the general qualifying standard would be disadvantaged," the Bench, also comprising Justices S H Kapadia, R V Raveendran, B Sudershan Reddy and P Sathasivam ruled.

The Bench said that candidates availing benefit of the rule and adjusted in the reserved category should be counted as a part of reserved pool for the purpose of computing the aggregate reservation quotas.

"The reserved category candidates, who are selected on merit and placed in the list of General/Unreserved category candidates can choose to migrate to the respective reserved category at the time of allocation of services. Such migration as envisaged by Rule 16 (2) is not inconsistent with Rule 16 (1) or Articles 14, 16 (4) and 335 of the Constitution," the Bench said.

The rule only seeks to recognize the inter se merit between two classes of candidates, meritorious reserved category candidates and relatively lower ranked reserved category candidates, for the purpose of allocation to various civil services keeping in view the preferences indicated by them, the court observed.

Declining contentions for allocation of vacated open seats to the reserved category candidates, the Bench said "allotting these General Category seats (vacated by meritorious reserved category candidates) to relatively lower ranked Reserved Category candidates would result in aggregate reservations exceeding 50 per cent of the total number of available seats."

Centre, during the arguments, had contended that the amended rule sought to rectify an anomaly, as otherwise, the interests of the meritorious reserved category candidates who have toiled hard to qualify as per the general qualifying standards would be jeopardized.

Earlier, the Rule 16 (2), which was inserted after amendment in 2005, was challenged before the CAT by some candidates in the reserve (wait list) saying that adjustment of OBC merit candidates against OBC reservation vacancies was "illegal".

The Tribunal had directed that the meritorious OBC candidates, who were selected on merit, must be adjusted against the general category seats.


First Published: Saturday, May 08, 2010, 00:11

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