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SEBC candidates face a blow as court says rules of the game cannot be changed halfway through: Bombay High Court

The Bombay high court passed a judgement on Wednesday, the 27th of July 2022 in favour of the EWS category candidates stating that the impugned government resolution issued by the Government of Maharashtra in favour of SEBC candidates is illegal and bad in law. This was established in the case of Vikas Balwant Alase And Ors Vs Union Of India Through Secretary And Ors (Writ Petition No. 2663 Of 2021) and the verdict was passed by the Honourable Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Honourable Justice Makarand Subhash Karnik.

FACTS OF THE CASE:

This case is in respect to the implementation of a fair selection process for filling up the vacancies of Electricity Assistant and Diploma Engineer (Trainee) in the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL). The advertisement for the vacancy provided for a separate and distinct reservation for both the EWS as well as the SEBC. The reservation in respect to the SEBC was in accordance with the MSEBC Act but the constitutional validity of the MSEBC Act was being challenged in the Supreme Court and the advertisement provided a condition that the recruitment is subject to the outcome of the decision of the Supreme Court. Halfway through the recruitment process, The Supreme Court passed an order that appointments to posts under the Government shall be made without implementing the reservation as provided under the MSEBC Act. The candidates selected against the SEBC reservation were left in a distasteful situation. The State Government then took a decision that those candidates from SEBC category, who otherwise fulfil the eligibility prescribed for open or EWS category, may be considered against the vacancies meant for open or EWS category. The MSEDCL took a decision to comply with the directives of the State Government.

The case comprises of two groups of petitioners, the petitioners belonging to the EWS category contend that the action of the State Government in allowing SEBC category candidates who fulfil the eligibility to participate in the selection process meant for EWS category is completely unconstitutional and the second group of writ petitions is filed by the candidates belonging to SEBC category contending that the directives of the State Government allowing them to participate in the selection process in the vacancies reserved for EWS category, is an informed decision which should be followed word to word.

JUDGEMENT:

The writ petitions filed by the EWS category candidates succeeded and the court declared that the impugned government resolution is not applicable to the recruitment process initiated for the appointment of EWS candidates and should not affect their selection process. The court said the MSEDCL should proceed with the rules that were prevailing during the time of issue of the advertisement.

The court further elaborates that on the date of the advertisement, the candidates were aware of the number of seats reserved for EWS and SEBC category. The rules set out on the date of the advertisement were clear that eligible candidates had to either apply against the EWS vacancies or the SEBC vacancies. SEBC candidates took a chance and made a choice of filing application for appointment in the vacancies reserved for the SEBC and the interim order of the Supreme Court then affected the chances of the SEBC candidates for appointment against such category.  In such circumstances, the decision of the State to permit such migration midway through the selection process is arbitrary and unfair. The court also declared that the impugned government resolution is illegal and bad in law.

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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY TANAV ZACHARIAH.

Click here to view the Judgement

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