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Court: merit selection cannot be considered quota appointment

Friday 7 April 2006

Legal Correspondent

Option for a preference does not mean OBC quota has exhausted

OBC candidates challenge non-selection Bench dismisses appeal against High Court verdict

New Delhi: Other Backward Class candidates selected for civil services posts under the `general merit’ category cannot be considered appointed under the OBC quota, the Supreme Court has held.

"A person entitled to be appointed on the basis of merit, though belonging to a reserved category, cannot be considered to be selected against seats reserved for the reserved category," said a Bench consisting of Justices H.K. Sema and A.R. Lakshmanan.

Writing the judgment, Justice Sema said: "When a percentage of reservation is fixed in respect of a particular cadre and the roster indicates the reserve points, it has to be taken that the posts shown at the reserve points are to be filled from amongst the members of the reserved categories." The Bench said the `reserved category’ candidates could compete for `non-reserved’ posts. In the event of their appointment to the said posts, their number could not be added and taken into consideration for working out the percentage of reservation.

In the instant case for the 1996 IAS/IPS posts, there were 174 vacancies for the OBC category. Of these, only 138 OBC candidates were given job since the remaining were treated as having been selected under the `open merit’ category. The 36 OBC candidates who were denied job challenged their non-selection in the Delhi High Court. It held that though the OBC candidates could be placed in the `open category’ for the purpose of placement, the quota reserved for OBC candidates could not be exhausted by such allotment. The Centre was directed to provide them jobs under the OBC category.

Dismissing an appeal by the Centre against this judgement, the Bench pointed out that the Union Public Service Commission recommended 737 candidates for 737 posts. Under the OBC category, 174 candidates were recommended for 174 posts. "We are at a loss as to what had happened to those remaining services/posts after allocation of services to all the candidates in terms of their preference. We say no more."

The Bench said, "by opting [for] a preference, the quota reserved for OBC candidates does not exhaust. There are still vacancies after the allocation of all candidates in the order of preference. They can be allotted to any of the remaining services/posts in which there are vacancies after the allocation of all the candidates who can be allotted to the services/posts in accordance with their preference."

Holding that there was no infirmity in the High Court order, the Bench dismissed the appeal with Rs. 10,000 as costs to each of the respondents (petitioners before the High Court). It directed the Centre to allot jobs to the respondents within one month.

See online : The Hindu

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