In a significant judgement, the Allahabad High Court has ruled that OBC candidates applying for government jobs are “not exempt from the rigours of a cut-off or last date” given in the recruitment notices. A candidature is liable to be rejected if the caste certificate is not submitted within the stipulated period of time, it has said. The order was passed by the full bench of the High Court, comprising Chief Justice D B Bhosle and Justices Dilip Gupta and Yashwant Varma, last week.
The full bench was constituted to decide on a number of questions that had arisen after two division benches of the court gave conflicting views in the matter. The division benches had deliberated on a number of writ petitions and special appeals filed by OBC candidates, whose candidature had been turned down by the UP Police Recruitment and Promotion Board following their failure to submit their caste certificates by the cut-off date mentioned in the advertisement for the jobs they had applied for.
The primary question before the full bench was “whether the candidature of an OBC candidate is liable to be rejected” when the caste certificate has been submitted after the last date for submission of applications. The full bench was of the view “the prescription of a cut-off date in an advertisement serves more than one salutary purpose. By requiring all applicants to adhere to this date, the state is not practising any discrimination, nor can it be said to be acting unfairly. The absence of such a requirement would quagmire the entire selection process in a state of complete uncertainty.”
Referring to the need for undertaking the exercise to decide on the eligibility of the candidates, including the OBC status and ‘creamy layer’, the bench concluded: “viewed in this light, it cannot be said that the requirement of submission of such a certificate by a particular date is not attracted to the case of an OBC candidate.” Justifying its ruling, the full bench said one of the primary purposes of such a stipulation was to enable the selecting body to identify the number of candidates and their eligibility.
“Judging whether a particular candidate is entitled to the benefits of reservation or has rightly claimed as falling in the said category is an essential exercise liable to be undertaken”, the court said.
“While it is true that a caste certificate is only a recognition of an existing status, … an OBC candidate necessarily must establish the twin conditions of belonging to an OBC group recognised by the state and also that he does not fall within the creamy layer. This requirement is liable to be judged with reference to a date prescribed in an advertisement”, it said.
“The certificate of OBC (non-creamy layer) is issued with reference to the final condition of the holder or his parents assessed over a period of three years. The financial condition of a holder is liable to change or fluctuate over a period of time,” the court also observed.