Monday, April 13, 2009

Denial of reservations in entrance examination

The Supreme court has justified in this judgment the denial of reservations by the Andhra Pradesh Public Service Commission in the entrance examination to fill up state civil service posts. Mail Today in this editorial (A fair and just view)defends the judgment saying it will have far-reaching consequences because most public service commissions in States reduce the cut-off marks for reserved category applicants in the entrance or preliminary examinations, so as to ultimately find sufficient candidates to fill the vacant posts under the reserved quota.

There are a few unusual features in this case. While it is generally the Governments which are in favour of reservations, in this case, the Government has justified the need to deny quota to the reserved categories in the preliminary examination, in order to maintain efficiency under Article 335. Another interesting aspect is that P.P.Rao, who had argued against reservations in the Ashoka Kumar Thakur case, chose to defend the respondents, who were aggrieved by the APPSC's decision to deny quota, and further relaxation of cut-off marks for reserved category candidates at the preliminary examinations.

P.P.Rao argued that judging of the merit of the candidates having regard to the provisions of Article 335 of the Constitution of India per se should not allow the State and the Commission to stop all the candidates at the first gate and then prevent them from appearing at the main examination as thereby constitutional scheme to provide reservation would be frustrated to a great extent. He also suggested that the means to achieve the constitutional object and the goals should not be defeated by inserting procedural provisions as a result whereof what is being given by one hand should not be permitted to be taken away by the other.

The Court, however, rejected this argument, and held: "Concededly, no citizen of India can claim reservation as a matter of right. The provisions contained in Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution of India are merely enabling provisions. No writ of or in the nature of mandamus, thus, could be issued."

It is surprising that in this election season, the political class seems to have completely missed the import of this significant judgment from the Supreme Court
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