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Friday, December 20, 2013

Odisha Administrative Tribunal quashes SEBC reservation

The  Administrative Tribunal (OAT) today quashed the Reservation of Posts and Service (Socially and Educationally Backward Classes) Act, 2008, which had provisions of earmarking 27 per cent of posts for candidates belonging to the SEBC in public employment. 

The tribunal, while disposing a case against an advertisement where rate of reservation was above 50 per cent, said the Act was unsustainable in the eye of  as it had not been included in the 9th schedule of the Constitution. 

A division bench of OAT comprising chairman Justice Nityananda Prusty and administrative member S N Das directed the state government and Odisha Public Service Commission (OPSC) not to exceed 50 per cent ceiling in total in respect of ST, SC and SEBC in public employment as laid down by the Supreme 

The tribunal further deprecated the state government's hasty action in implementing the Odisha Reservation of Posts and Services (Socially and Educationally Backward Classes) Act, 2008 before its inclusion in the 9th Schedule. 

An aspirant for the post of ASO (assistant section officer) in the State Secretariat and Raj Bhawan, Amar Chhatoi, had challenged the vires of the Act on the basis of an employment notice floated by the OPSC in which applications were invited one year ago for filling up 811 posts. 

State respondents took the plea that for providing 27 per cent reservation, necessary enactment was made under Article 16(4) and the same was in force as it had not been declared ultra vires by any competent court of law. 

It was further argued that the State was competent to bring such Act. 

OPSC took the plea that on the basis of requisition from state government, clarifications were sought on the point of exceeding 50 per cent quota and after receipt of the clarification, necessary advertisement was floated. 

As there is 38.75 per cent reservation for ST and SC, the 27 per cent reservation for SEBC takes the total reservation ratio to 65.75 per cent, which is contrary to the benchmark fixed by the apex court, the petitioner's counsel argued. 

Orissa High Court and Supreme Court while upholding an earlier judgement of the OAT, directed that reservation in public employment can not exceed 50 per cent. 

However, the state government in 2008 passed a Bill to nullify judicial directives. With quashing of the Act, this provision is given a judicial burial, the counsel said.

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