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Delhi HC: Special treatment facet of equality, treating unequal as equals discrimination

Judicature notes that Constitution includes special provisions for SC and ST, and empowers State to make special provisions for advancement of socially and educationally backward classes
High Court of Delhi
High Court of Delhi
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PTI   |   New Delhi   |   Published 04.11.22, 07:18 PM

Special treatment for the underprivileged is a facet of equality guaranteed under the Constitution and treating unequal as equals is a well-recognised form of discrimination, the Delhi High Court has said.

The court noted that the Constitution includes special provisions for the Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST), and empowers the State to make special provisions for the advancement of socially and educationally backward classes of citizens.

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The observations came on a batch of petitions by some SC/ST persons who were declared ineligible to be appointed as the court attendant/room attendant (Group-C) under the reserved category in the Delhi High Court on the ground that they are not "ordinarily residents of Delhi".

"It is now well settled that providing special treatment for the underprivileged is a facet of equality guaranteed under Part-III of the Constitution of India. Treating unequal as equals is a well-recognised form of discrimination. The Constitution of India includes special provisions relating to certain classes including the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes," said a bench of Justices Vibhu Bakhru and Amit Mahajan in its order dated November 2.

"Article 15 of the Constitution of India proscribes discrimination on the ground of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth. Article 15(4) of the Constitution of India carves out an exception; it provides that nothing stated in Article 15 or Article 29 (2) of the Constitution of India shall prevent the State from making special provisions for advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes," the court said.

In view of a series of judicial decisions by the Supreme Court as well as the high court, the bench ruled that the "rule of pan-India reservation would apply to recruitment to posts in the subordinate services" in the national capital.

The court directed its establishment to consider the appointment of the meritorious petitioners to the posts concerned under the quota for the reserved category candidates, without insisting that they establish that they are ordinarily residents of Delhi.

The court noted that the official notification issued for the posts invited applications from all citizens of the country and the requirement for a candidate to be an ordinarily resident of Delhi was carved out only in respect of candidates claiming reservation for belonging to the SC and ST categories.

"Thus, if a candidate is able to furnish a certificate of belonging to a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe which may otherwise be issued only by the competent authority where such a candidate is ordinarily resident he cannot be denied the benefit of reservation as specified under the notification," the court said.

"These petitions are allowed and the Establishment of the Delhi High Court is directed to consider appointment of the petitioners to the advertised posts under the quota for the reserved category candidates, without insisting that the petitioners establish that they are ordinarily residents of Delhi. This is subject to the petitioners otherwise qualifying for such appointment in the order of merit," it ordered.



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