A reserved category candidate, who has availed age relaxation in a selection process, cannot seek accommodation in or migration to general category seat at a later stage, the Supreme Court on Thursday held. The top court said that Article 16(4) of the Constitution empowers a state to give reservation in appointments to any backward class of citizens, which in its opinion, is not adequately represented in the service there.
A bench of justices S Abdul Nazeer and Indira Banerjee upheld the Gujarat High Court verdict which had said that candidates who got the benefit of age relaxation by virtue of being from a reserved category are not entitled to be considered in general category and their cases are required to be considered for reserved category cases only.
The top court's verdict came on a plea by a candidate named Niravkumar Dilipbhai Makwana, who challenged the high court order by which it had upheld the Gujarat Public Service Commission selection process.
"The state government has clarified that when a relaxed standard is applied in selecting a candidate for SC/ST, SEBC category in the age limit, experience, qualification, permitting number of chances in the written examination etc., then candidate of such category selected in the said manner, shall have to be considered only against his/her reserved post. Such a candidate would be deemed as unavailable for consideration against unreserved post," the bench said.
The top court said it is evident from the circulars issued by the state government that a candidate who has availed age relaxation in the selection process as a result of belonging to a reserved category cannot, thereafter, seek to be accommodated in or migrated to general category seats.
"It is purely a matter of discretion of the state government to formulate a policy for concession, exemption, preference or relaxation either conditionally or unconditionally in favour of the backward classes of citizens," the bench said.
It added that the reservation being the enabling provision, the manner and the extent to which reservation is provided has to be spelled out from the orders issued by the government from time to time.
The bench while referring to the circulars issued by the Gujarat government on January 21, 2000 and July 23, 2004 said that it has framed a policy for the grant of reservation in favour of SC/ST and OBC.
"We are of the view that the age relaxation granted to the candidates belonging to SC/ST and SEBC category in the instant case is an incident of reservation under Article 16(4) of the Constitution of India," it said while dismissing the appeal of the candidate against the high court order.
It said that advertisement published by GPSC inviting applications from the eligible candidates for 167 posts of Assistant Conservator of Forests (ACF) and Range Forest Officer (RFO) dated March 1, 2010, upper age limit relaxation was granted to the candidates belonging to SC/ST and SEBC category.
"It was also specifically stated in the advertisement that if any candidate belonging to a reserved category who applies in the open category, such candidate would not get the benefit of age relaxation," the bench said.