The Punjab government has challenged an order of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes directing it to provide the benefit of reservation while appointing law officers in the office of the Advocate General. The Punjab and Haryana High Court will next hear the matter, which has seen considerable to and fro of letters between the state government and the NCSC, on July 4.
The move comes days after the Punjab Department of Home Affairs and Justice, on May 27, wrote to the NCSC stating that reservation to scheduled caste candidates is applicable while engaging various categories of law officers in the office of Advocate General.
The state government had also informed the NCSC about Advocate General Anmol Rattan Singh Sidhu’s opinion, which stated that “the paramount consideration should be given to the ‘efficiency’ of the law officers who need to perform before the top court of the State as well as before the apex court of the country; there is no legal necessity for the reservation in the appointment of law officers by the state government”.
An Advocate, OP Indal, had last year moved approached the NCSC stating that “the Government of Punjab is not giving reservation in recruitment/appointment/engagement of law officers” in the establishment of Advocate General.
Subscriber Only Stories
“In terms of Article 16(4) of the Constitution of India, which empowers the State to make provisions for reservation in appointment in favour of any backward class of citizens, Government of Punjab has enacted the Punjab Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes (Reservation in Service) Act, 2006…in section 4(7) it is clearly stated that reservation shall be applicable to vacancies to be filled on ad hoc basis, short term vacancies;work charged establishment, daily wages staff and the staff engaged on contractual basis,” Indal had said in his petition.
Taking up the petition, the NCSC, in August last year, had recommended that “provision of the section 4(7) of the Punjab Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes (Reservation in Service) Act, 2006 shall be followed in letter and spirit… provide for reservation for SCs in the recruitment/ appointment/ engagement of law officers in the establishment of AG. This may be done by advertising the vacancies afresh or by issuing a corrigendum/addendum thereof.”
The Commission had also sought an action taken report in the matter from the Punjab government. Following the NCSC order, the Punjab government in January this year, through Additional Secretary, submitted that, “the AG has been asked to the implement the provisions of the Punjab Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes (Reservation in Services) Act, 2006, with regard to reservation in the engagement of law officers in the office of AG”.
The State had also attached a communication sent to the AG in December 2021, which stated that “it is decided by the government that reservation shall be implemented to SC and BC candidates according to provisions enshrined under the Punjab Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes (Reservation in Services) Act, 2006 at the time of engagement of Law Officers in office of Advocate General, Punjab.”
Meanwhile, the Assembly elections were held in Punjab in February this year, and with the formation of new government, Anmol Rattan Sidhu was appointed as new AG.
In April, AG Sidhu, in his opinion submitted to the state government, that “the December 2021 letter can adversely affect the efficiency of the administration, keeping in view the low strength of the law officers as compared to the work load and the roster of the high court as well as considering the overall administration.”
Following the AG’s opinion, the Punjab government wrote to the NCSC that after due approval of the competent authority, “reservation to SC candidates is not made applicable in advertisement dated April 21, 2022 with regard to engagement of various categories of law officers in the office of AG”.
Moosewala case: Punjab Police get gangster Bhagwanpuria’s transit remand