Sakshi Arha vs The Rajasthan High Court
Date of Order:
18 May 2023
Justice Ajay Rastogi, Justice Bela M Trivedi
Appellant - Sakshi Arha
Respondent - The Rajasthan High Court and Ors
The Rajasthan Judicial Service Rules, 2010 govern the Rajasthan Judicial Service. The rules provide for the recruitment, qualifications, rights, and duties of members of the judicial service, as well as the appointment, promotion, transfer, leave, and other service matters related to members of the judicial service. The case at hand deals with the appointment of candidates to the post of civil judge in Rajasthan as outlined in the Rules, 2010.
- Article 136, The Constitution Of India
- The post of Civil Judge included in the Rajasthan Judicial Service Rules, 2010 was to be filled after the conduct of a competitive exam by the competent authority.
- Apart from the direct recruitment method, rule 10 of the Rules, 2010 provides for reservations for backward classes, persons with disabilities, and women.
- In the case of the non-availability of suitable candidates, the vacancies will be filled as per the procedure provided and further vacancies carried forward to the following year.
- In 2020-2021, around 120 reservations were observed for the civil judge post.
- It was provided that the vacancies would be filled by applicants from Rajasthan and members of Other Backward Classes.
- Vacancies may be filled by applicants from outside Rajasthan and members of SC/ST/OBC and the More Backward Class and Economically Weaker Sections.
- The appellant was required to produce all the documents claiming reservation benefits. There was no requirement to furnish the caste certificate of the category claiming reservation benefits but the same had to be produced on the demand of the recruiting authorities.
- The respondent had notified the appellant regarding the required documents and that the certificate must be of a period not before one year from the last date of submission of the application i.e. 31st August 2021.
- The appellant does not belong to the reserved category nor was their certificate released before the deadline. Yet, they were allowed to take part in the interview but did not receive the benefits of their certificate.
- Despite the appellant scoring high marks in the reserved categories, the respondent selected candidates lower in merit for the post of civil judge. This was because their certificate relating to the category was near the cutoff date and hence they couldn’t avail of reservation benefits.
- The action of the respondent was challenged in a writ petition by the appellant.
- The Division Bench of the High Court dismissed the petition stating that the appellant had failed to furnish the certificate within the given time.
- Aggrieved by the High Court decision, the appellants approached the Supreme Court through this special leave petition.
- Is the respondent’s action to deny the appointment of the appellant to the post of Civil Judge on the grounds that the certificate relating to the reserved category was submitted beyond the cutoff date valid?
ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE APPELLANT
- The counsel for appellants jointly submitted that the judgments cited by the high court division bench would not be applicable in the present case as those cases dealt with the issue of minimum academic requirements.
- It was contended that the appellants hail from rural backgrounds and belong to poor strata in society and that they can be well adjusted to the unfilled vacancies without disturbing the persons already appointed.
- It was further submitted that the lesser meritorious candidates were selected despite the appellants complying with all the prescribed requisites.
- It was pointed out that there can be some relaxation regarding the submission of proof of the certificates/documents by citing the judicial decision of Dolly Chhanda Vs. Chairman, JEE & Ors [(2005) 9 SCC 779].
- The case of Gijroya Vs. Delhi Subordinate Services Selection Board & Anr [(2016) 4 SCC 754] was further cited to submit that submission of a certificate after the last date mentioned in the advertisement was valid for the selection of the candidate under the reserved category.
ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE RESPONDENT
- The counsel for respondents urged that the eligibility of the applicant should be looked into on the last date of application. In addition, each applicant was not holding their certificate related to the category as demanded before 31st August 2021
- The counsel relied upon the case Rakesh Kumar 18 Sharma vs. State (NCT of Delhi) and Others [(2013) 11 SCC 58] and held that the high court committed no error in its decision.
- It was submitted that the Government had issued circulars for the issuance of the requisite certificates by the competent authority in view of the current economic status of OBC-NCL and EWS candidates. Hence the appellant failed to produce the valid certificates issued by the competent authorities as per the said circulars.
- The division bench consisting of Justice Ajay Rastogi, and Justice Bela M Trivedi delivered a split decision in the present case.
- Justice Ajay Rastogi quashed and set aside the High Court order and allowed the appeal.
- He viewed that the high court was wrong in its decision to consider the candidate's eligibility condition while looking into the production of the certificate of reserved category. As far as the issue at hand was concerned, this had no relevance.
- The justice cited the case of Rekha Chaturvedi (Smt.) vs. University of Rajasthan and Others [1993 Supp (3) SCC 168], where it was held that when the rules are silent regarding the qualification/eligibility of the applicant and no specific date for the same is notified, the best course is to look at the last date of application.
- The justice further directed the respondents to consider each appellant for appointment with benefits including seniority.
- Justice Bela M Trivedi viewed that the appellants were defaulters and they could not be given preferential treatment by accepting the certificates produced by them as valid, though it was received by them after the last date for the submission of applications.
- Reliance was placed on Dr. M.V. Nair vs. Union of India & Ors. [(1993) 2 SCC 429], where it was held that qualification and eligibility must be looked into when considering the last date for receiving applications unless the notification calling for applications itself specifies a date.
- The justice ruled that the appeal had no merits and that the high court was right in its decision to pass the impugned judgment.
Reservations for backward classes involve reserving a percentage of educational and government jobs for people from Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), Other Backward Classes (OBCs), and more recently, Economically Backward Classes (EBCs). These reservations are implemented under the Indian Constitution and relevant laws and regulations. In the present case, the appellants couldn’t claim reservation benefits even after receiving qualifying marks. This was due to the failure to submit the certificate of category within the stipulated time.
The issue at hand, in this case, is still unsettled before the court of law. This is due to the split verdict given by Justice Ajay Rastogi and Justice Bela M Trivedi. It is submitted by the Hon’ble bench to place the pending matter before the Chief Justice of India for review.
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