Published: 19th September 2019
SC says separate interviews for SC, ST, OBC illegal: Every person with merit can get jobs, seats under General category
The Court observed that if a reserved category candidate has enough marks they should be admitted under the general category
The Supreme Court has passed an order stating that if a reserved category candidate has the requisite merit, he can occupy a General category seat. The Court also called the process of holding separate interviews for General category and OBC category students wholly illegal. The judge made the observation while passing judgement on an appeal filed by Pradeep Singh Dehal, who was appointed against a post meant for an OBC candidate.
Dehal had filed the appeal against a High Court order that examined a case filed by a candidate challenging his appointment. In his petition, the candidate said that neither of them got the job of the Assistant Professor at the Department of Education in the International Centre for Distance Education and Open Learning, Shimla during the first round of interviews. Another call for interviews was made and the candidates who had previously applied for the job were advised not to apply again — unless they had any extra information to share. Subsequently, the job went to Dehal, though the post was meant for someone from the OBC category.
During this hearing, the Court observed that separate interviews had been held for the posts based on the caste-based category, "We find that the process of conducting separate interviews for the posts of Assistant Professor under General category and OBC category is wholly illegal. Though, none of the parties have raised any dispute about it, but since the same is inherently defective, we are constrained to observe so."
The bench comprising of Justice L Nageswara Rao and Justice Hemant Gupta also said that every person is a 'General category candidate'. "Every person is a General category candidate. The benefit of reservation is conferred to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and OBC category candidates or such other category as is permissible under law. It is a consistent view of this Court starting from Indra Sawhney & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors that if a reserved category candidate is in merit, he will occupy a General category seat."
Pointing out that reservations do not operate like a communal reservation, the bench said that it may well happen that some members, for example belonging to SC can get selected in the open competition field on basis of their own merit, "They will not be counted against the quota reserved for SC, they will be treated as open competition candidates."
The judges invoked a previous case where this following question was raised — whether reserved category candidate who obtains more marks than the last General category candidate is to be treated as a General category candidate. To this, the Court had held that the migration from reserved category to General category shall be admissible to those reserved category candidates who secured more marks obtained by the last reserved category candidates subject to the condition that they did not avail any special concession. "The concessions which were availed by the reserved category candidates are in the nature of age relaxation, lower qualifying marks, concessional application money than the general category candidates," the Court had observed.