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Article 16 of the Constitution forbids the government from designating any government position for athletes through an order or other means: Uttarakhand High Court

Article 16 of the Constitution forbids the government from designating any government position for athletes through an order or other means is upheld by the Uttarakhand High Court in the case of Dhananjay Verma v. State of Uttrakhand through a Full Bench of Ramesh Ranganathan CJ and Sudhanshu Dhulia and Alok Singh, JJ.

FACTS OF THE CASE

A writ suit challenging the comprehensiveness of Article 16(4) of the Indian Constitution was filed in this case where the petitioners asked the court whether Article 16(1) of the Constitution allowed for a reservation for the “sports” category or whether Article 16(4) was exhaustive in all respects.

The arguments were supported by the Order that the Chief Secretary of the Government of Uttarakhand issued in 2006, which stated that the Governor had approved 4% horizontal reservations for athletes who had achieved success at the international or national level for employment in the State’s and other organisations’ services. It was notified by a subsequent Order from 2009 that such reservations were only applicable to domiciled people.

An earlier petition from three athletes from various States seeking mandamus against the State because they claimed appointment under the sports category was under consideration by a knowledgeable Single Judge. The court took note of the Uttarakhand government’s position, which was that athletes without a permanent address in the state were not eligible for horizontal reservation and could not be nominated.

The learned Single Judge then noted that it was unlawful to deny the petitioners a position in the sportsmen’s quota because their application had already been considered and they had been given the go-ahead. As a result, the State was told to name the petitioners in accordance with the 2006 Order. The decision was appealed.

JUDGEMENT

The Uttarakhand High Court concluded that Article 16 of the Constitution forbids the government from designating any government position for athletes through an order or other means.

The Court stated that Sub-Article (1) of Article 16 provided that “any office under the State,” and that “there shall be equality of opportunity for all citizens with respect to each and every office under the State.” This implied that everyone had the right to an equal opportunity to be considered for public appointments, however, Sub-Clause (4) of Article 16 provided reservations for members of the backward class; and Sub-Clause (4A) provided reservations for SC and STs. In other words, the State lacked the authority to provide any person a reservation in any employment that was available inside the State if a class did not fall under the exceptions described in Sub-Clauses (4), (4A), and (4B) of Article 16.

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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY NISHTHA GARHWAL

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