Reservations in Appointment is not creation of rigid slots for employment

Reservation in appointment:

Article 16(4) of Constitution of India:

Subject to any permissible reservations i.e.either Social (Vertical) or Special (Horizontal), opportunities to public employment and selection of candidates must purely be based on merit.Any selection which results in candidates getting selected against Open/General category with less merit than the other available candidates will certainly be opposed to principles of equality. There can be special dispensation when it comes to candidates being considered against seats or quota meant for reserved categories and in theory it is possible that a more meritorious candidate coming from Open/General category may not get selected. But the converse can never be true and will be opposed to61the very basic principles which have all the while been accepted by this Court. Any view or process of interpretation which will lead to incongruity as highlighted earlier, must be rejected.

Even going by the present illustration, the first female candidate allocated in the vertical column for Scheduled Tribes may have secured higher position than the candidate at Serial No.64. In that event said candidate must be shifted from the category of Scheduled Tribes to Open / General category causing a resultant vacancy in the vertical column of Scheduled Tribes. Such vacancy must then enure to the benefit of the candidate in the Waiting List for Scheduled Tribes – Female.

Reservation is not rigid:

Reservations, both vertical and horizontal, are method of ensuring representation in public services. These are not to be seen as rigid “slots”, where a candidate’s merit, which otherwise entitles her to be shown in the open general category, is foreclosed, as the consequence would be, if the state’s argument is accepted. Doing so, would result in a communal reservation, where each social category is confined within the extent of their reservation, thus negating merit. The open category is open to all, and the only condition for a candidate to be shown in it is merit, regardless of whether reservation benefit of either type is available to her or him.

Appointment of persons with criminal background in police forcce

Acquittal by itself not enough for appointment:

The question involved in these appeals is whether the candidature of the respondents who had disclosed their involvement in the criminal cases and also their acquittal could be canceled by the Screening Committee on the ground that they are not suitable for the post of constable in Chandigarh Police and whether the court can substitute its views for the decision taken by the Screening Committee.

Screening Committee examined each and every case of the respondents and reasonings for their acquittal and taken the decision. While deciding whether a person involved in a criminal case has been acquitted or discharged should be appointed to a post in a police force, nature of offence in which he is involved, whether it was an honourable acquittal or only an extension of benefit of doubt because of witnesses turned hostile and flaws in the prosecution are all the aspects to be considered by the Screening Committee for taking the decision whether the candidate is suitable for the post. As pointed out earlier, the Screening Committee examined each and every case and reasonings for their acquittal and took decision that the respondents are not suitable for the post of Constable in Chandigarh Police. The procedure followed is as per guideline 2(A)(b) and object of such screening is to ensure that only persons with impeccable character enters police force. While so, the court cannot substitute its views for the decision of the Screening Committee.

In a catena of judgments, the importance of integrity and high standard of conduct in police force has been emphasized. As held in Mehar Singh case, the decision of the Screening Committee must be taken as final unless it is mala fide. In the case in hand, there is nothing to suggest that the decision of the Screening Committee is mala fide. The decision of the Screening Committee that the respondents are not suitable for being appointed to the post of Constable does not call for interference.

[Source: Union Territory, Chandigarh  vs Pradeep Kumar, decided by SC on 8 January, 2018]