Sikkim HC Rejects Challenge to Removal of SC/ST/OBC Age Relaxation for Fisheries Block Officer Position

The Sikkim High Court recently dismissed a petition challenging the Sikkim State Subordinate Fisheries Service (Amendment) Rules 2019, which removed the age relaxation granted to ST, SC, MBC and OBC applicants by fishing rules 2008.

Judge Bhaskar Raj Pradhan observed that it is open to the Government, while making rules under the proviso of Section 309 of the Constitution of India, to prescribe such age limits or to prescribe the extent to which any relaxation may be granted.

“The question whether the State has the power to make rules under the proviso of Section 309 of the Constitution of India to prescribe age limits or the extent of relaxation to be granted has been lucidly explained by the Supreme Court including ruling that it is open for the government while making rules under the proviso clause of Section 309 of the Constitution of India to prescribe such limits of age or to prescribe the extent to which any relaxation may be granted. The Supreme Court has further held that the prescription of such a limit or the extent of the relaxation to be given cannot be characterized as arbitrary or unreasonable.Thus, the challenge to the 2019 amendment rules is dismissed.

Article 309 makes it possible to establish rules for the recruitment and conditions of service of persons in the service of the Union or of a State.

This Application in Brief was filed by four applicants. All aspired to join the Junior Fisheries Service as a Fisheries Block Officer. The controversy in this case relates to the condition of eligibility for said post.

The 2008 Fishing Rules stipulated age between 18 and 30 as a condition of eligibility with a relaxation of 5 years for applicants from Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) and 3 years for lower classes. backward classes (MBC) and other backward classes (OBC). ) candidates. Petitioners 1 and 2 are SC and petitioners 3 and 4 are OBC.

The 2019 amendment rules removed this relaxation and subsequently an announcement was posted on 26.08.2021 for recruitment.

On 12.01.2022, the Civil Service Commission published the rejected list of 96 candidates in which the petitioners appeared. The reject list indicated that they were surplus. The petitioners asserted that they had the necessary level of education and challenged the amendment as contrary to Articles 14, 16 and 335 (claims of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to services and positions) of the Constitution of the United States. India.

The petitioners argued that although Section 335 of the Constitution of India is not enforceable, it is the primary duty of the welfare state to ensure that it achieves its purpose.

The defendant authorities argued that the standardization of the age for all categories of candidates was a political decision of the government which cannot be challenged by the applicant, especially since they themselves participated in the selection process. by making their online applications which were rejected.

He argued that the petitioners had failed to show how their rights under section 14 or 16 had been violated and in the event that the petition for writ was allowed and an instruction issued to give a relaxation of the age, the floodgates would open.

The Respondent also argued that Section 335 of the Constitution of India should be interpreted in accordance with Section 16(4) of the Constitution of India.

After hearing both parties, the court held that there is a presumption that the notification was validly made by the government unless it is proven that it was not.

The burden imposed by Sections 101 and 102 of the Indian Evidence Act 1872 was not superseded by the petitioners. Neither in the pleadings of the petition in brief nor in the pleadings of the learned counsel of the petitioners was it shown that the Amendment Rules 2019 were ultra vires the Constitution of India or any other law.

He added that positions and services to be recruited in specific departments, including all other positions and services that have specifically prescribed an upper age limit of less than 30 years in their recruitment rules, are kept outside the scope of the notification.

The 2019 amendment rules which changed the schedule appear to be in line with the government’s policy decision when it prescribed that the incumbent must have reached the age of 21 and not be over 30 for all communities. The petitioners’ plea for an instruction to the Respondent States to relax the age prescribed in the Amendment Rules, 2019 with the force of the judgment rendered by the High Court of Jharkhand also cannot be accepted as the prevailing circumstances in the State of Jharkhand when the judgment rendered cannot be assimilated to what has been pleaded in the present proceedings.

In view of the above, the court held that the scope of judicial review of the government’s policy decision is very narrow and that the present petition in brief is not considered as the exceptional petition calling for interference. Accordingly, the writ was dismissed.

Case title: Tshering Samdup Bhutia and Ors. vs. State of Sikkim and Ors.

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