The Supreme Court bench of Justice UU Lalit, Ravindra Bhat, and Hrishikesh Roy has observed that reservation both vertical and horizontal, were methods of ensuring representation in public services. These were not to be seen as rigid “slots”, where a candidate’s merit, which otherwise entitles her to be shown in the open general category, was foreclosed, as the consequence would be if the state’s argument was accepted. Doing so would result in a communal reservation, where each social category is confined within the extent of their reservation, thus negating merit.
As per the observation of the bench,
“The principle that candidates belonging to any of the vertical reservation categories are entitled to be selected in the open or general category is well settled. It is also well accepted that if such candidates belonging to reserved categories are entitled to be selected on the basis of their own merit, their selection cannot be counted against the quota reserved for the categories for the vertical reservation that they belong.”
A petition was filed by OBC, mostly women candidates, complaining about the correct method of filling the quota reserved for the women candidates (horizontal reservation) for the selection of constables in Uttar Pradesh. As per the petition, the Uttar Pradesh Government had not applied the reservation rule in the selection of constables and denied them to migrate into the general category even when they gained marks enough to qualify for it.
Justice Ravindra Bhat gave a concurring opinion as, “The open category is not a ‘quota’, but is rather available to all women and men alike.”
The Supreme Court hence ruled,
“Any selection that results in candidates getting selected against open/general category with less merit than the other available candidates will certainly be opposed to principles of equality.”
Hence, the conclusion came that all the candidates who belong to the ‘OBC Women Category’ and secured more marks than the last candidates in the ‘General category Female’ must be offered employment as Constables in Uttar Pradesh Police.
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