- Apprentice Lawyer
The reservations/ relaxations given to Scheduled Tribe (ST) communities should cannot be taken away by invoking technicalities, the Delhi High Court ruled underscoring the objective behind affording such benefits (Lekhraj Meena vs UOI).
A Division Bench of Justices Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Asha Menon said that reservations/relaxations are in admission of the disadvantages which the STs have suffered for generations which place them in an unequal position vis-a-vis other citizens.
"Such disadvantages extend to all parameters of day to day life, making it more difficult than for others. The said reservations/relaxations cannot be given by one hand and taken away by another, invoking technicalities, forgetting the hardship and difficulties faced by such members in accomplishing smallest of the things, including of literacy and awareness," the Court said.
The petitioner, Lekhraj Meena, belonged to the Scheduled Tribes (ST) category.
His candidature for recruitment to Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) was rejected on the ground of delayed submission of the form of certificate for height relaxation for ST candidates as per Annexure-IX to the SSC Notification.
The said form of certificate for height relaxation was required to be issued by the Magistrate, Sub-Division Magistrate (SDM) or the District Tehsildar concerned and, therefore, petitioner was required to go back to his home town i.e. Karauli in Rajasthan to obtain the same.
However, on account of the ongoing Farmers’ Protest, the petitioner was not able to submit to obtain and submit the form on time.
The height of the petitioner was 165 cms against the cut-off limit of 162.5 cms provided for those belonging to the ST category and he had duly submitted his caste certificate. The cut-off limit for general category was 170 cms.
Before the Court, the petitioner explained that he did not have the certificate in the first instance as the District Tehsildar misconstrued the requirement of the Annexure-IX as requiring him to certify that the petitioner belonged to the hilly areas, and thus, felt no need to fill the prescribed certificate.
The Respondent defended the rejection of the petitioner's candidature on the ground that besides the caste certificate, a candidate was required to submit the certificate for height relaxation either at the stage of application form or at the time of medical examination.
It was added that although the petitioner defaulted on both accounts, he was still given latitude of five days for submitting the certificate but he was unable to do so.
First, the Court opined that the District Tehsildar was "clearly wrong" in denying the certificate for height relaxation to the petitioner for the reason that he did not belong to the hilly areas.
In response to the Respondent's stand, the Court remarked that apart from providing relaxations or reservation to members of the ST community, there should be relaxation in implementing the reservations as well.
"We are of the view that the very fact that members of the STs have been granted certain reservations/relaxations, not only legislatively but also constitutionally, shows the need therefor. The said need has to be fulfilled, not only by providing reservations/relaxations but also by providing relaxations in implementing the said reservations and benefits conferred on the STs," the Court said.
The Court, thus, held that the petitioner's failure in submitting the certificate for height relaxation could not be viewed pedantically, forgetting the very purpose of granting the reservations/relaxations.
Judicial notice was also taken of the ongoing Farmers’ Protest around the National Capital Region.
The court thus ordered,
"The petition is allowed. The respondents are directed to permit the petitioner to submit the certificate for height relaxation as stipulated in Annexure-IX to the SSC Notification dated 17th September, 2019 and if find the said certificate in order and the petitioner qualifying in PST/PET, to allow the petitioner to forthwith join back the recruitment process and to consider the recruitment of the petitioner in accordance with the law/procedure."
Advocates Aditya Jain, Neha Gyamlani and Bhavya Golecha appeared for the petitioner.
Respondent was represented by advocate Nidhi Raman.