Can a candidate applying for a government job under the reserved category be considered for the general category, if his candidature for the reserved category is rejected?
The Supreme Court says No. By saying so it has reversed the verdict of the Punjab and Haryana High Court that upheld a Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) direction to the Centre to appoint one Dalbir Singh for the post of mazdoor (labourer) under the general category as the marks secured by him was more than the last general category candidate.
Singh’s candidature under the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) category was rejected on technical grounds.
“In our opinion, having opted to consider his case only under OBC category, he cannot thereafter claim that his case requires to be considered in the general merit, only because, he has scored better percentage of marks than the last selected candidate in the general merit,” a bench headed by Justice Tarun Chatterjee said.
“The respondent, (Singh) at no point of time had claimed that if for any reason, his case can not be considered under OBC category, at least the appellants (central government) should consider his case under the general merit list,” the bench said, giving a rather technical and narrow interpretation of provisions.
Singh never took exception to the procedure adopted by the Union government in preparing separate select lists for general and OBC categories, it noted.
The Union government had advertised for selection of 20 ‘Mazdoors’ both in general and reserved categories. Singh, who belonged to Saini community, applied for the post under OBC category.
But in view of some discrepancy in the caste certificate, his candidature was rejected.
Singh approached the Chandigarh Bench of the CAT, which directed the Centre to give him employment either by in the general category or by accepting his OBC certificate.
The government challenged the CAT order before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which upheld it.
But the apex court reversed the verdict. “In our view, the Administrative Tribunal having found that the appellants were justified in not considering the respondent’s case for appointment under OBC category ought not to have directed the appellants to consider his claim under general category,” it said.