The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its judgement on the contentious issue whether candidates belonging to reserved categories selected for union civil services on merit should be appointed against reserved posts or under the general quota.
The hearing before a five-judge Constitution Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices S H Kapadia, R V Raveendran, P Sudershan Reddy and P Sathasivam, which ended after six days of marathon arguments, assumes significance as it would have bearing upon the procedure for allotment of posts adopted by UPSC as well as aggrieved candidates.
While referring the matter to the Constitution Bench, the apex court had said “an authoritative pronouncement was needed on the issue”.
Among the various contentious issues, the Bench was to decide whether reserved category candidates, i.e Other Backward Castes, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, who are selected on merit and placed in list of general or unreserved category candidates could be considered as reserved category candidates at the time of service allocation.
The focus of the entire matter was Rule 16 (2) of the Civil Services Examination Rules as amended in 2005 which mandates that a reserved category candidate selected on merit as unreserved or general category can be considered as reserved category for allocation of a post on preferential basis.
However, this rule was held as unconstitutional by the Madras High Court, leading to filing of appeals against it by the Centre and aggrieved candidates.
The aggrieved candidates come from both categories as after the High Court ruling the unreserved category candidates making to the list might have to be dropped from the list to accommodate reserved category candidates selected in general category.
Similarly, the reserved category candidates selected in general category on merit, if deprived of availing quota for preferential post, will lose the services of higher choice.
Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium defended the Rule 16(2) by contending that it has been enacted to further the cause of the deprived classes and is not violative of the Constitution.
He contended that the rule gives the candidates of deprived classes, selected in merit list without taking the benefit of reservation, an opportunity for appointment to a service of higher choice in order of their preference.
Advocate Sree Prakash Sinha, who filed petitions for some aggrieved candidates, however, said UPSC was doing the same thing even before the amendment in the rule in 2005 but now it has made the condition worst for the reserved category.
The rule was challenged after the civil services examination of 2005 and 2006-07.
The High Court had held as null and void Rule 16 (2) of examination rules for central civil services examination saying it ran counter to the benefit of SCs, STs and OBCs candidates and was not affirmative, progressive and pragmatic in achieving social justice.