The Delhi High Court has rejected a plea against higher priority to wards of ex-servicemen with regard to the 5% Army quota admissions to colleges and has refused to interfere with the Government Order.

A Division Bench of Justice Suresh Kumar Kait and Justice Neena Bansal Krishna held, “The Horizontal utilization of reservation quota is essentially determined by the Government Order F.No.6(1)/2017/D(Res.II) dated 21.05.2018. No arbitrariness or mala fide has been brought forth in the said policy. We do not find any ground to interfere with the Government Order dated 21.05.2018 or to reshuffle the Priority categories as provided therein.”

The Bench said that there is neither any arbitrariness nor any unreasonableness or mala fide brought forth in the categorization of the wards in the priorities.

Advocate Vijay Singh represented the petitioner while CGSC Anil Soni, Government Pleader Archana Surve, and Standing Counsel Santosh Kumar Tripathi represented the respondents.

Brief Facts -

A petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India was filed on behalf of the petitioner to quash the order/letter of the Centre giving the categories of priority within the reservations provided in the Army quota of 5% for admission to various Colleges. The petitioner further prayed to give directions to the respondents to treat/include Priority No. VIII above the Priority No. VI or in alternative to consider both the Priority Nos. VI and VIII at the same podium for the admissions in the forthcoming Academic Year 2023-24.

The wife of the petitioner was serving as Lieutenant Colonel in the Indian Army and was posted in New Delhi. The son of the petitioner was a student of Class XII who was aspiring to become a Software Engineer to pursue a Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech) Course for which the qualifying examination was the Joint Entrance Examination (Main) (JEE), and while going through the counselling/cut-off charts of various Engineering Colleges of Delhi Government, the son found that the majority of reservation benefits were taken away only by Priority-VI leaving no seat available for the remaining ones.

The High Court in view of the facts and circumstances of the case observed, “The petitioner has challenged the Order F.No.6(1)/2017/D(Res.II) dated 21.05.2018 issued by Government of India, Ministry of Defence, Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare providing inter-se priority for reservation/ preference to the wards of Armed Forced personnel by States/UTs for admission to Medical/Professional/ Non-Professional Courses. … We at the outset, need to highlight that what is being questioned is the categorization of the priorities in between the wards of ex-servicemen and those of service personnel as not based on any intelligible differentia and that the Priority VIII should be merged with Priority VI.”

The Court noted that the Government Order providing the priority categories amongst the 5% reservations for the wards of Armed Forces personnel has been duly incorporated in the JEE Main, 2023 for admission to the various colleges of Delhi to be conducted online with the support of the National Informatics Centre.

“The entire scheme of Priority list shows that the benefit of reservations was essentially intended for the widows and wards of defence personnel who have either been killed or boarded out on account of disability attributable to military services. In Category V and in Category VII, wards and wives respectively of Ex-Servicemen as well as serving personnel have also been given the benefit of being placed in Priority V and Priority VII”, also noted the Court.

The Court said that the classification has been done and the wards of serving personnel have been included even though in Priority VIII only to ensure that the benefit of 5% reservation, on the whole, is availed enduring to the benefit of the wards of Armed Forces Personnel.

Accordingly, the Court dismissed the petition.

Cause Title- Viney Chaudhary v. Union of India & Anr. (Neutral Citation: 2023:DHC:4339-DB)

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