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