Apurva Thakur

On Wednesday, the three-judge Bench of Supreme Court, Justice U.U. Lalit, Justice Ajay Rastogi and Justice Aniruddha Bose after hearing a plea filed by the petitioner’s counsel Ishkaran S. Bhandari for male nursing job candidates against the decision of the prime organization to reserve 80% seats for women towards filling vacancies of Nursing Officer (Group B), issued notice to the Centre and All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

The petitioners being aggrieved by the advertisement by AIIMS Patna which invited applications for direct recruitment on the post of Nursing Officer (Staff Nurse Grade-II) for hospital services. In said advertisement, 80% of the posts were reserved for female candidates and 20% of the posts were set aside for male candidates and the same was approved by the governing body of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

Earlier, the petitioners had challenged the said advertisement on a reservation of 80% of posts for female candidates in the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), Patna on the ground that it is contradictory to the right to equality under Articles 14, 15 and 16 of the Constitution of India and more than 50% of posts cannot be reserved for females, which was dismissed and the petitioner then moved to Patna High Court seeking appropriate relief.

It has been submitted by the Union of India and AIIMS before the Patna High Court that this reservation secured for female candidates is well within the meaning of Article 16(4) of the Constitution and it is a case of reasonable classification to achieve a specific objective for providing care and comfort in the specialized ward and such classification is permissible under Article 14 of Constitution of India. AIIMS said that it is a policy decision of the apex body of AIIMS which decided to recruit and fill up vacancies with more female nursing officers than male nursing officers in all AIIMS uniformly for hospital services.

The High Court observed, “Being convinced by the arguments made by the UOI and AIIMS, the tribunal had held that Article 14 of Constitution of India prohibits class legislation but permits reasonable classification, depending upon the objective and purpose of the State action and same is permissible and further held that objective of providing comfort and care in specialized wards by earmarking of 80% of vacancies for female nurses is neither discriminatory, unreasonable, unfair nor arbitrary classification and dismissed the application by impugned order.”

The High Court upheld the order passed by the Tribunal and found no arbitrariness. The petitioners, therefore, moved to the Apex Court for appropriate relief.

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