The Supreme Court has held that reserved candidates like SC/STs, OBCs can be provided age relaxation and fee concession for selection in government jobs under general category even after the reserved quota has been filled.
However, such relaxation can be extended provided the reserved candidates secured competing or more marks with the general candidates in preliminary or qualifying exams for final selection.
The apex court said such relaxation cannot be termed as violative of the Constitutional provisions of equality or the norm that reservations in general category should not exceed the 50 per cent quota fixed by it in the Indra Sawhney case.
“Reservations are a mode to achieve the equality of opportunity guaranteed under Article 16 (1) of the Constitution of India. Concessions and relaxations in fee or age provided to the reserved category candidates to enable them to compete and seek benefit of reservation is merely an aid to reservation.
“The concessions and relaxations place the candidates at par with general category candidates. It is only thereafter that the merit of the candidates is to be determined without any further concessions in favour of the reserved category candidates,” a bench of Justices Tarun Chatterjee and Surinder Singh Nijjar said in a judgement.
The apex court passed the judgement while upholding the validity of the selection process conducted by Uttar Pradesh government in 2000 for recruitment of police sub inspectors. In the selection process, the government had permitted reserved candidates to appear for selection in general category by permitting them to avail age relaxation.
However, the move was opposed by general category candidates on the ground that they cannot enjoy double benefit as they have already been granted fee and age relaxation in reserved candidates category.
The Allahabad High Court had upheld the government’s action, after which the aggrieved general candidates had appealed in the apex court. Dismissing the appeal, the apex court said reserved category candidates have not been given any advantage in the selection process as all the candidates had to appear in the same written test and face the same interview which is decided on the basis of merit.