The Chhattisgarh High Court has struck down the state government’s decision to provide 100% reservation for direct recruitment of women as assistant professors and demonstrators in government nursing colleges. The court termed this decision “unconstitutional” in a writ petition filed by three individuals who were not allowed to apply despite having the necessary qualifications due to the female-only recruitment clause in an advertisement issued by the Chhattisgarh Public Service Commission (CPSC).
The CPSC released an advertisement on December 8, 2021, for the posts of assistant professor (nursing) and demonstrator for various subjects. As per Clause 5 of the advertisement, only female candidates were eligible for recruitment and appointment. The petitioners challenged Clause 5 of the advertisement, claiming that it was in violation of Article 14 (equality before the law), 15 (prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth), and 16 (equality of opportunity in matters of public employment) of the Constitution.
The lawyers for the petitioners argued before the court, “The advertisement is violative of the Constitution, while giving 100% reservation in favor of female applicants.” They further stated that the reservation for women to the extent of 100% for direct recruitment violates constitutional provisions. They also pointed out that the reservation was not in line with the rules, as per the 2013 Medical Education (Gazetted) Service Recruitment Rules. According to the rules, the post of demonstrator is to be filled by direct recruitment and 50% by promotion from the post of staff nurse/nursing sister/assistant nursing superintendent. In contrast, 75% of assistant professors are to be recruited directly, while 25% of posts will be filled by promotion from the post of demonstrator.
The lawyers representing the petitioners further argued that in April 2021, 13 male candidates were appointed as nurses in the department of medical education. They stated that when there was no restriction on the admission of male candidates in BSc and MSc nursing courses, the reservation for female candidates to the extent of 100% was “irrational and arbitrary.”
On behalf of the state, the learned counsel argued, “100% reservation for female candidates is saved by Article 15(3) of the Constitution of India as Article 15(3) provides that the state is not prevented from making any special provisions for women and children. By virtue of the power conferred on the state, the respondents have framed the Rules, which neither suffers from arbitrariness or illegality, nor is beyond the competency of the state to frame the Rules.”
After listening to the arguments, the court concluded, “100% reservation for female candidates for appointment on the posts of demonstrator and assistant professor is unconstitutional, violative of Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India, and therefore, Note-2 in the Schedule III of the Rules of 2013 as well as Clause 5 of the advertisement are adjudged illegal and hence, quashed.”
The court’s decision will have a significant impact on the recruitment process in government nursing colleges in Chhattisgarh. It is a significant win for the petitioners who fought against the discriminatory reservation policy and for equal opportunities in public employment.