AIIMS nursing posts: Reservation for women long overdue, says Delhi HC

The high court issues notice to the AIIMS and the Centre on a plea by three male candidates aggrieved by the institute’s decision.
Delhi High Court.(Mint file)
Delhi High Court.(Mint file)
Updated on Dec 10, 2020 07:20 PM IST
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New Delhi | ByPress Trust of India| Posted by Akhilesh Nagari

Reservation for women has been long overdue, the Delhi High Court observed on Thursday while asking AIIMS to respond to a plea challenging a Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) order which upheld the premier medical institute’s decision to reserve 80 per cent of nursing officers’ seats for women.

The high court issues notice to the AIIMS and the Centre on a plea by three male candidates aggrieved by the institute’s decision.

The plea sought quashing of the CAT’s judgement and setting aside the reservation of 80 per cent of over 4,600 posts in favour of women. “Reservation for women under Article 15(3) of the Constitution has been a long overdue. It’s been a long overdue. In the present case, this relates to nursing staff which has traditionally been a long hold of women,” a bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Talwant Singh observed.

Article 15 provides that the State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex and place of birth. Article 15(3) states however that nothing in Article 15 shall prevent the State from making any special provision for women and children.

The high court also issued notice on the application for interim relief of stay on the November 19 decision of CAT and listed the matter for further hearing on February 22.

“Needless to state that any appointments made to the subject post shall abide with further orders that may be passed in the present proceedings,” the bench said.

Advocate Anand Varma, representing AIIMS, accepted the notice and prayed for time to file reply to the petition.

Petitioners Harish Kumar Kajla, Rajesh Kumhar and Krishna Kumar Bohra, in the petition, said the question here is whether 80 per cent reservation for women in the Nursing Cadre of AIIMS is unconstitutional or otherwise illegal.

“The impugned decision was made during a Meeting held on July 27, 2019 of the ‘Central Executive Body’ of AIIMS. The said decision has been implemented in the recruitment drive organized vide Advertisement Notice dated August 5, 2020 issued by AIIMS, for filling up 4,629 vacancies of Nursing Officer, Level 07, PB-2, Group B post,” the plea said.

The results for the appointment of the nurses was announced on October 8, this year.

Advocate Santhosh Krishnan, appearing for the petitioners, said the recruitment drive pertains to vacancies in 12 AIIMS all over India and added that these male candidates, despite having such a high percentage were not getting appointed due to this 80 per cent women reservation policy.

The petition contended that this reservation by AIIMS violates the 50 per cent overall ceiling contemplated for reservation in public employment and it cannot be exceeded.

“In the present case, the purported object of reservation is ‘patient comfort and care’. It is thus apparent that the object had nothing to do with benefitting women by way of better employment opportunities. The reservation is apparently only for the purpose of patient’s comfort. Hence, the reservation cannot be justified under Article 15(3),” it said.

It further said when discrimination lacks intelligible nexus between object and the classification, it is violative of Article 14 (equality before law) of the Constitution.

“There is no intelligible nexus between patient care and the gender of the nurse. The belief that women are better suited as nurses is without any basis, survey, study or scientific evidence. AIIMS has not shown any data in pleadings or filed any document supportive of its belief that women are better nurses, per se,” the plea said.

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