The Delhi High Court on Wednesday said that selecting candidates for All India Civil Services mains exam and subsequent interview without declaring the actual number of vacancies, particularly for the disabled category, amounts to “arbitrariness” and asked it to explain how it was deciding who qualifies for the mains and interview.
“When your vacancies are fluctuating, how many people will you call for the mains and interview? If you have the power to call any number of candidates for mains and interviews without declaring the actual vacancies, it is known as arbitrariness,” a bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh told the Centre and Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) which conducts the civil services exam.
The bench also asked them to explain how there was a difference of eight in the vacancies for disabled calculated by the petitioner organisation, Sambhavna, and the number advertised in the exam notification.
According to Sambhavna the number should be 32, whereas the exam notice indicates a figure of 24 vacancies for disabled category.
“You have to explain these two aspects,” the court said to the Centre and UPSC and listed the matter for hearing on January 29.
The court was hearing two PILs by two different organisations — Sambhavna and Evara Foundation — which have challenged the civil services exam notification on the ground that only approximate vacancies for the disabled are mentioned and not the four per cent mandatory reservation mandated under the law.
During the hearing, they urged the bench to stay the mains exam which is scheduled to commence from January 8 and would end on January 17 or direct the Centre to hold exams for the disabled persons later if the two petitions were allowed.
The court, however, refused to pass any interim directions and said that if the petitioners were successful, the reliefs would be moulded accordingly at that stage.
On the last date of hearing in September 2020, the court had termed as “absurd” the UPSC’s argument that while the number of vacancies in the All India Civil Services may vary before the final selection of candidates, the number of seats for the disabled would remain fixed.
“You cannot say the number of reservations is fixed, but the number of vacancies might vary. What is this absurd argument? Either both are frozen or neither are frozen,” the court had said.
The petition by Sambhavna, filed through advocates Krishan Mahajan and Ajay Chopra, has contended that the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act of 2016 mandates that every government establishment shall reserve 4 per cent of its total vacancies for those with benchmark disabilities.
However, the UPSC exam notice only mentions “expected approximate vacancies” — a category that does not exist under the law, it has said.
“The notice becomes a fraud on the Act since it gives four per cent reservation of 796 expected approximate vacancies. To reserve something of that which does not legally exist is to legally give nothing,” the petition has contended.
The NGO further claims that there is a mathematical error in calculating the four per cent reservation in the expected vacancies numbering 796.
It has said that four per cent reservation of 796 would come to 31.8 or 32 vacancies, whereas according to the notice the number is 24.
The petition further claims that even the subsequent distribution of the vacancies at the rate of one per cent per category of disability — deaf, blind, locomotor and multiple disabilities — is also not mathematically accurate.
It also said that even the backlog of vacancies have not been mentioned.