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OAT quashes SEBC quota norm

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OST Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Dec 19:

The Odisha Reservation of Posts and Service (Socially and Educationally Backward Classes) Act, 2008, having provision of 27 percent of posts reserved for SEBC candidates in public employment, has been quashed by the Odisha Administrative Tribunal (OAT).

A division bench of Tribunal comprising chairman Justice Nityananda Prusty and administrative member SN Das on Wednesday asked the state government and Odisha Public Service Commission (OPSC) to abide by the stipulation of the Supreme Court not to exceed 50 per cent ceiling in respect of ST, SC and SEBC in public employment.

The tribunal said Act was unsustainable in the eye of law as it had not been included in the 9th Schedule of the Constitution, while disposing of a petition filed against a job advertisement which had set the percentage of reservation beyond 50 per cent.

The Tribunal criticized the state government for implementing the Odisha Reservation of Posts and Services (Socially and Educationally Backward Classes) Act, 2008 in haste before its inclusion in the 9th Schedule.

It may be mentioned that Amar Chhatoi, an aspirant for the post of Assistant Section Officer in the State Secretariat and Raj Bhawan, had challenged 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.

However, the state respondents argued 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. They also argued that the state government was competent to bring such Act.

The OPSC maintained that the advertisement was issued on the basis of a requisition from the state government.

The petitioner’s counsel argued that as against 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 far in excess of the benchmark fixed by the apex court.

Upholding an earlier judgement of the SAT, the Odisha High Court and the Supreme Court had made it clear that reservation in public employment can not exceed 50 per cent, the counsel said, adding that the state government had passed a Bill in 2008 to nullify the judicial directives.