The Delhi High Court Thursday observed that reservation for women under the Constitution’s Article 15(3) — which allows the government to make any special provision for women and children — “has been long overdue”, as it declined to grant any interim relief in a plea challenging 80% reservation for women in the nursing cadre of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
“It has been long overdue and the present case relates to nursing staff… which has traditionally been stronghold of women,” observed a division bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Talwant Singh, issuing a notice to AIIMS and Centre in the plea filed by three candidates against a Central Administrative Tribunal order in which reservation was upheld.
As per the plea, the decision to reserve the posts was taken during a meeting of AIIMS Central Executive Body in July 2019 and the decision implemented in the recruitment drive advertised in August 2020 for filling up 4,629 vacancies of nursing officers. Advocate Anand Varma, who appeared for AIIMS, opposed the prayer for interim relief.
It has been argued in the petition that the reservation violates the 50% overall ceiling contemplated for reservation in public employment and there is “no intelligible nexus” between patient care and gender of nurse. “The belief that women are better suited as nurses is without any basis, survey, study, scientific evidence,” the petition reads, adding the policy decision could not have been taken without amendment to the regulations.
CAT’s Principal Bench in the order on November 19 had ruled the reservation of 80% for women in nursing posts is valid and concurred with a similar ruling given by Patna Bench of the Tribunal and the Patna HC with regard to 80% reservation in recruitment of nursing officers for AIIMS Patna’s specialised wards.
The plea before the High Court here argues that “the objective of having comfort and care in specialised wards cannot justify 80% reservation in the entire hospital. Therefore, even if Patna Bench reasoning is accepted, the impugned reservation of 80% for all wards is disproportionate and arbitrary.”
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