Considering Husband’s Caste For Women Applying For Govt Job Contrary To Law, Caste Of Parents Is Valid: Karnataka HC
The Karnataka High Court while hearing petitions filed by the married women challenging the action of the State held that the caste of married women applying for the government job must be considered based on the caste and income certificate of her parents rather than the husband’s.
The State had treated the married women as belonging to the general category applicants based on the caste certificates of their spouses.
A Single Bench of Justice M. Nagaprasanna asserted, “I hold that the action of the Selecting authority - DDPI in interpreting and holding that the caste and income of the husband is to be taken into consideration is contrary to law and a direction is to be issued to the respondents to consider the applications of the petitioners on the basis of caste and income certificates of the parents and not their spouse and as belonging to the respective categories against which they have applied for.”
The Bench was dealing with the batch of pleas filed by the applicants to the post of primary school teachers challenging the State Government’s action of treating them as falling under the general category without considering the caste certificates of their parents.
“It is rather surprising that the State is time and again repeating the very same mistake and driving the applicants to knock at the doors of this Court despite the declaration of law by the Apex Court and that of this Court, by clinging on to a Government Order dated 12.12.1986, which is on the face of it unsustainable”, the Court said.
The Court further said that the State shall direct the selecting authorities to act in tune with the law and that it is high time the State sets its house in order and refrain from generating unnecessary litigation.
Senior Advocate K. Shashikiran Shetty appeared for the petitioners while Advocate General Prabhuling K. Navadgi represented the respondents.
A notification was issued by the State bringing in certain amendments to the Karnataka Civil Services General Recruitment Rules. Thereafter, another notification came to be issued calling for applications from eligible candidates for recruitment to the posts of Graduate Primary Teachers from 6th standard to 8th standard classes in Government and aided institutions. The petitioners applied for the same and submitted relevant documents.
Every other criterion was accepted by the Deputy Director of Public Instruction (Adm.) i.e., the DDPI, except applications which accompanied caste and income certificates depicting the caste and income of the father of the applicants. The applications which accompanied caste and income certificate of the father were all treated to be general merit candidates despite being entitled to reservation.
The following issues arose before the High Court for consideration –
1. Whether the writ petitions challenging the action of interpretation of caste and income certificates by the Selecting Authority - DDPI would be maintainable?
2. Whether the caste and income of the husband of the female applicant should be taken into consideration or the caste and income of the parents?
3. Whether the Selecting Authority – DDPI would get jurisdiction to interpret caste and income certificates issued by competent authorities?
The High Court while considering the first issue said, “… this Court would not shirk its responsibility of setting the wrong right which is also interpreted and held in a particular manner by the Apex Court, by the Division Bench of this Court and that of the co-ordinate Bench. Therefore, these petitions are held to be entertainable only on the solitary issue concerning caste and income certificates and in the peculiar circumstances.”
The Court further said that merely because there exists an alternative remedy as provided under the statute, fetters cannot be laid at the hands of the Court exercising its jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution to remedy any situation which would warrant immediate and necessary interference.
While dealing with the second issue the Court observed, “The issue whether the caste and income of an individual should be taken into consideration or that of the parents should be taken into consideration or of the spouse to be taken into consideration need not detain this court for long or delve deep into the matter.”
The Court while considering the third issue noted that such issue is in favour of the petitioners whereas against the respondents.
“In the light of the Selecting Authority - DDPI having no jurisdiction to do so, the action of the Selecting Authority, albeit on the Government Order dated 12.12.1986 and the directions of the State is unsustainable”, the Court further noted.
It was therefore held by the Court that the caste and income certificates submitted by the petitioners shall be taken into consideration by the Selecting Authority – DDPI and that the DDPI has no jurisdiction to interpret the caste certificates issued by the competent authorities.
The Court also held, “The provisional select list insofar as it relates to the petitioners being brought under the general merit category is quashed. … The petitioners shall be treated as belonging to the categories to which they had applied for, qua the caste and income certificates appended to the applications.”
The Court said that the State is reserved liberty to regulate its procedure by continuing the recruitment and taking it, to its logical conclusion.
Accordingly, the Court allowed the pleas.
Cause Title- Akshata Chougala and Ors. v. State of Karnataka and Ors.