Case Title: Naveen Kumar H N & Others AND State of Karnataka & Others
Case No: WRIT PETITION NO. 4979 OF 2023 (S-RES) C/W WRIT PETITION NO. 6588 OF 2023
Date of order: 03.08.2023
CORAM: HON’BLE JUSTICE N S SANJAY GOWDA
Karnataka High Court Affirms Validity of 01.02.2023 Government Circular Regarding Reservation Application under Article 371J for Kalyana Karnataka Region”
In 2020, the Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Limited (KPTCL) issued a recruitment notification for the positions of Assistant Engineers (Electrical) and Junior Engineers. The notification included provisions related to the recruitment of local candidates from the Kalyana Karnataka Region, in accordance with Article 371J of the Indian Constitution. This article aimed to ensure development and provide incentives for education and employment in the underdeveloped Hyderabad-Karnataka region.
A new circular issued in 2022 reversed the previous circulars and changed the recruitment process. This new circular stated that local candidates from the Kalyana Karnataka Region should be considered first for recruitment against non-local cadre positions. If unsuccessful in securing these positions, their candidature should then be considered for local cadre posts. Non-local cadre applicants challenged this, arguing that altering the selection process after candidates had exercised their options was against established legal principles.
Justice N S Sanjay Gowda highlighted that the main objective of introducing special provisions in the Hyderabad-Karnataka region was to acknowledge its underdevelopment and provide incentives for education and employment. The judge ruled in favor of the state’s circular, stating that it aligned with the constitutional intent of Article 371J.
The court noted that while Article 371J aimed to provide local candidates with reserved posts, it did not intend to restrict them from applying for other positions in the state. It held that the state government could not limit the right of local candidates to apply for non-local cadre positions by mandating option exercises.
The court emphasized that candidates choosing non-local cadre posts might have reduced chances of employment compared to candidates from more developed regions. It found that issuing separate notifications for local and non-local cadre positions better aligned with constitutional intent.
Addressing the argument of changing rules midway, the court highlighted that essential eligibility and selection criteria remained consistent throughout the recruitment process. It aimed to uphold opportunities for both local and non-local candidates without adversely affecting either.
The judgment acknowledged that the reversal of decisions by the State Government had caused the present confusion and issued specific directions to address the situation. These directions included allowing local candidates to opt for the local cadre and ensuring vacancies arising from this choice were offered to non-local candidates on the basis of merit.
In conclusion, the court dismissed the petitions while affirming the state’s circular and providing directions to ensure fairness in recruitment while considering the constitutional intent behind Article 371J.
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Written by- Shreya Sharma