The Full Bench of Allahabad High Court has decided the question as to the admissibility of a caste certificate issued after the cut-off date prescribed in the Advertisement for seeking the benefit of reservation.
In the case of Gaurav Sharma vs State of U.P. and Others (Special Appeal No.156 of 2017), a 3 Judges Bench comprising Chief Justice V.B. Bhosale, Justice Dilip Gupta and Justice Yashwant Verma, formulated following questions for an authoritative pronouncement by the Larger Bench:
- Whether the candidature of an OBC candidate is liable to be rejected on the ground of the caste certificate having been submitted after the last date for submission of applications?
- Whether the decision in Arvind Kumar Yadav lays down and represents the correct position in law?
- Whether there exists any irreconcilable difference or repugnancy between the norms fixed by the Union and State Governments with regard to certification of the creamy layer? If not, its effect.”
Gaurav Sharma (Apellant applied for selection to the post of Computer Operator Grade-A in terms of an advertisement dated 23 February 2016. He applied as a candidate under the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category and mentioned in the application form that he belongs to the non-creamy layer. He qualified the written examination as well as a typing test, after which he received a provisional admit card and called for document verification. On 21 December 2016, the final results were declared, and although the cut off marks for the OBC category was 90, the Appellant who had secured more marks was ousted from the list of selected candidates. On inquiring, the Appellant was orally informed that since the caste certificate submitted by him was not in the prescribed format, the candidature of the Appellant was treated as falling in the general category. Since the marks obtained by the Appellant were below the cut-off marks prescribed for General Category, therefore he was declared not selected. After this, the Appellant applied for a fresh caste certificate on the prescribed format and the same was issued to him subsequently. However, the same was refused by the respondents constraining him to file the writ petition. The Singe Judge following the decision in Arvind Kumar Yadav Vs. U.P. Police Recruitment and Promotion Boards (Special Appeal 762/2016) held that a certificate submitted after the last date could not be taken into account.
Contention of Parties:
- The prescription of a cut-off date for the production of caste certificates is wholly superfluous and of no significance whatsoever.
- Caste certificate is not a document conferring a special status.
- Even if the caste certificate was submitted after the last date prescribed in the Advertisement, the same could not be refused.
Contention of State:
- Insofar as OBCs are concerned, both the Central as well as the State Governments maintain a separate list.
- Advertisement not just prescribed time limits within which a caste certificate on the prescribed format was to be submitted but also stipulated the consequences of a certificate not being submitted within the time fixed thereunder.
- Terms and conditions of the Advertisement were liable to be construed strictly, especially since no prejudice was caused to the appellants and the writ petitioners.
Findings of Court:
- While it is true that the caste certificate is only a recognition of an existing status, as noted above, an Other backward Class candidate must establish the twin conditions of belonging to an OBC group recognised by the State and also not covered under creamy layer. This requirement is liable to be judged with reference to a date prescribed in an advertisement.
- An OBC candidate is not exempt from the rigours of a cut-off or last date prescribed in an advertisement or recruitment notice.
- Arvind Kumar Yadav Case correctly articulates the law on the issue and overrule Pravesh Kumar and Shubham Gupta.
- There is no repugnancy in the norms fixed by the Union and State Government, the same would have no favourable impact upon the eligibility of a candidate unless he also furnishes a certificate evidencing him as belonging to the OBC category as recognised and identified by the State.
As such the Court held that a Reserved Category candidate, who has obtained Caste Certificate, after the last date of Cut-off prescribed in the Advertisement, cannot take benefit of reservation and such a candidate shall be treated to be General Category Candidate.