The Madras High Court has categorically held that the reservation for women in public employment can only be made horizontally and not vertically. The matter was between M Satheesh v. Secretary, Revenue Department and others (W.P.Nos.6201 of 2013) and was presided over by Hon’ble Mr. Munishwar Nath Bhandari, C.J and Hon’ble Mrs. Justice N.Mala, J.
FACTS OF THE CASE:
The petitioners contested the reservation policy implemented in accordance with Sections 26 and 27 of the 2016 Tamil Nadu Government Servants (Conditions of Service) Act. The provisions state that regardless of whether the rule of reservation of appointment applies to the posts or not, a minimum of 30% of all open positions to be filled through direct recruitment shall be reserved for female candidates, and in the case of positions to which the rule of reservation applies, a minimum of 30% of open positions shall be reserved for female candidates after the reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, Backward Class Muslims, and Backward candidates.
After carefully examining Articles 15 and 16, the court concluded that while Article 15 is a “unique provision,” only Article 16 deals with discrimination in public employment.
The Madras High Court firmly ruled that there can only be a horizontal and not a vertical reservation for women in public jobs. The Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission was therefore ordered to make the necessary changes to the Tamil Nadu Government Servants (Conditions of Service) Act of 2016 or else it would be deemed to be in violation of the law by the first bench, which was composed of Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice N Mala.
The court reaffirmed that in Indra Sawhney, the court had clearly concluded that women as a group cannot be classified as a “backward class of citizen” and that they are instead classified individually as a “vulnerable class” for whom the Constitution makes no reservations.
The court did not deem it appropriate to reverse the appointments since they had already been made, but it also did not see it appropriate to deprive individuals who were deserving of appointments their right to be made. As a result, the court ordered the respondents to reorganise the whole list, and any petitioners who were selected on the basis of merit as a result of the arrangement were to be appointed.
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JUDGMENT REVIEWED BY ADITI PRIYADARSHI