Thursday, August 27, 2009

Union of India v. Ramesh Ram: Arguments concluded

Arguments have concluded and the judgment has been reserved in the case before the Constitution Bench. Here is the latest SC order giving details of counsel who argued on behalf of various litigants.

The case is interesting because the contentious UPSC Rule 16(2)which allowed migration of candidates from the general list to reserved category for the purpose of service allocation was justified as well as opposed by different counsel on the ground of Article 14. The following are the details of various litigants before the Court.

Ramesh Ram belongs to reserved category. He is a Reserved Candidate and is already in service. Because of Rule 16(2), he could not get a higher service allocation, as the same was given to a migrant from general category, who claimed reservation for service allocation. Ramesh Ram wants 16(2) to be struck down, and his plea was upheld by the Madras High Court.

Navlendra K.Singh, K.Chandrasekar and Ramanjit Kaur Sethi are petitioners from general category who want 16(2) to continue. According to them, if the reserved category candidates moved from the open category to reserved category for the purpose of service allocation, then the consequent vacancies under the open category could be filled by meritorious candidates in the list (who may either belong to general or reserved candidates). They oppose the plea of the reserved candidates that a vacancy created by the movement of reserved candidate from the open to reserved list must be filled by a 'relaxed standard' candidate from the reserved list. This, they argue, would increase reservation beyond 50 per cent, and therefore, unconstitutional. Since 2005, the number of candidates who moved from open to reserved category for the purpose of service allocation has been on the rise. In 2005, out of 32 reserved candidates in the open list, 27 moved to reserved category; the remaining 5 were happy in the open category, because they got the services they preferred. In 2006, out of 58 reserved candidates in the open category, 43 moved to reserved category. In 2007, out of 96 such candidates, about 44 moved to reserved category for service allocation. Therefore, the vacancies left by them in the open category must be filled according to merit in the general category, they say.

Union of India is representing the case of Meritorious Reserved Candidates (MRCs)who moved from the merit list to the reserved list for the purpose of service allocation, and also supporting the petitioners belonging to the general category, who want 16(2) to continue. The MRCs are not litigants before the Court as the UOI is defending them.

Praneet Choudhary, Ankur Dular, K.Ganesh, and Mali Dhananjoy Shivaji belong to reserved category, and have filed writ petitions challenging 16(2). Because of 16(2), they have been denied their preferred service in the 2007 and 2006 Civil Services examinations.

Mahatma Phule Samata Parishad has filed a PIL challenging 16(2). Ram Avadhesh Singh, Member National Backward Classes Commission, has filed another PIL also challenging 16(2).

It is worth revisiting the case once the written arguments are filed after a week.
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