The candidates appearing for the Haryana government jobs under the general category have been placed at a severe disadvantage on account of reservation notified by the state government for socio-economic criteria, under which candidates belonging to the families without anyone in a government job, past or present, would get five marks extra and another five marks on account of their father not being alive.
An examination of recently-held recruitments in the Haryana police revealed that in the final selection on 400 posts of sub-inspectors, only 22 (around 5% of the total selected) candidates from the general category did not take advantage of the socio-economic criteria.
Similarly, regarding the recruitment of sub-inspectors (female) where 65 posts were advertised and only three candidates (around 4% of the total selected) were selected without the benefit of socio-economic criteria. For recruitment of female constables, against 1,100 posts, not even a single candidate was selected without the benefit of socio-economic criteria.
Terming the criteria as unconstitutional and arbitrarily depriving jobs to meritorious candidates, a petition was filed before the Punjab and Haryana high court. Taking cognizance of the plea, a division bench, comprising Justice G S Sandhawalia and Justice Vikas Suri, issued notice to the Haryana government seeking the state’s reply by March 28.
The matter reached the high court in the wake of a petition filed by Deepak Dahiya and one more candidate, who had applied for appointment as a sub-inspector in Haryana police but could not be selected despite performing well in merit due to extra marks awarded for the socio-economic criteria. They sought directions to quash the notification dated June 11, 2019 to the extent that the meritorious candidates have not been selected due to the benefit of the marks given on the socio-economic criteria. They also sought directions to quash the results for the selection of 400 sub-inspectors declared on October 31, 2021.
The petitioner, Deepak Dahiya belongs to the general category and secured 62.80 marks in the final merit list for recruitment of sub-inspectors and cut-off marks for the final merit list were 66.60. According to the petitioner, despite securing high marks he could not be selected because he was not eligible for the state’s socio-economic criteria, and those who were much lower in merit than him were selected due to additional marks under the socio-economic quota.
According to the petitioners, only 22 candidates have been selected without the benefit of additional marks awarded under the socio-economic criteria. “Meaning thereby, pure merit of the selection has not been considered and mostly all candidates who fall in the category of socio-economic criteria have been selected,” the petitioners told the HC.
The counsel for the petitioners, Rajender Singh Malik argued that this is totally in violation of the Articles 14, 15, and 16 of the Constitution and the petitioners have been denied equality of opportunity in the matter of public appointments because of the candidates covered under the socio-economic criteria end up getting an extra five or 10 marks despite being lower in merit against the petitioners.
Referring to the SC verdicts passed in the cases, titled Indra Sawhney and M Nagaraj versus Union of India, advocate Malik told the HC that it has been held by the constitutional bench of the Supreme Court that the state cannot obliterate the constitutional requirement of the ceiling of 50% reservation in jobs. It was held that if the ceiling limit of 50% is breached, the structure of quality and equality in Article 16 of the Constitution would collapse, argued the counsel.