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‘2016 order on local quotas not constitutional’

High court scraps state recruitment policy framed in 2016

100 per cent reservation for locals in 13 scheduled district violation of fundamental rights, rules full bench
Jharkhand High Court.

Our Correspondent   |   Ranchi   |   Published 21.09.20, 09:21 PM

Jharkhand High Court on Monday cancelled the recruitment of thousands of teachers and officials that was finalised on a 2016 policy providing 100 per cent reservation for local candidates living in 13 scheduled districts of the state, describing it as a violation of fundamental rights.

The court declared the policy null and void and scrapped the advertisement that was issued to announce the recruitment drive in 2016.

The then government headed by chief minister Raghubar Das had advertised for 17,572 vacancies of teachers in the state in 2016. Of these, the Jharkhand Staff Selection Commission (JSSC) has so far filled up about 9,000 posts in both scheduled and non-scheduled districts.

As per rough estimates, the order will adversely impact around 5,000 teachers in 13 scheduled districts, besides recruitments made in several other departments, like police and forest. The decision will also affect all future appointments in class III and IV posts in government services.

A full bench of Jharkhand High Court comprising justices H.C. Mishra, S. Chandrashekhar and Deepak Roshan pronounced the judgement through video conferencing on Monday after hearing a series of writ petitions filed against the recruitment policy. The bench had on August 21 reserved its order.

The Raghubar Das government had on July 14, 2016 issued a notification reserving all class III and IV jobs in government departments for local residents in 13 scheduled districts for a period of 10 years. The 13 districts were Ranchi, Khunti, Gumla, Sidmdega, Lohardaga, West Singhbhum, East Singhbhum, Seraikela- Kharsawan, Latehar, Dumka, Pakur, Jamtara and Sahebganj.

But one of the applicants, Soni Kumari, who was a resident of a non-scheduled district, moved court challenging the policy.

The petitioner’s counsel, L.K. Singh, said, “The impact of this notification would mean that candidates outside the scheduled district will be deprived from being considered for government appointments to class-III and class-IV posts in the scheduled districts which is against one’s fundamental rights enshrined under the Constitution.”

The court finally held that the policy robs equality of opportunity in government jobs and is a violation of Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India.  

The court order puts a question mark on all immediate appointments lined up by the state staff selection commission. Sources in JSSC said that the recruitment process for around 3,000 posts in various departments were underway.

“For example, the process for recruitment tests for data entry operators and panchayat workers were to be done in the next few months. Those will be on hold now. Since 2016, similar drives for appointment of over 20,000 people in different capacities like excise inspectors, forest guards, and constables have been undertaken. These will also be affected,” said a JSSC official.

He explained that since JSSC was an examination conducting body for recruitments, further modalities would have to be chalked out after studying the judgement thoroughly.

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