S. Vinod Kumar v. Union of India, (1996) 6 SCC 580 declared per incurium

Supreme Court: In a matter related to relaxing standards for candidates belonging to SC/ST in departmental competitive exams and departmental confirmation examinations, a Constitution Bench of R.M. Lodha, CJ and Jagdish Khehar, J. Chelameswar, Dr. A.K. Sikri and R.F. Nariman, JJ rendered the judgment in S. Vinod Kumar v. Union of India, (1996) 6 SCC 580, per incuriam for non consideration of Article 16(4A) of the Constitution thereby rendering  the Office Memorandum of 1997 withdrawing the relaxations illegal.

The point of dispute revolved around the Office Memorandum issued in 1997 which withdrew the relaxation of qualifying standards for SC/ST candidates in the departmental exams, thereby, effecting an amendment in Central Secretariat Service Section Officers’ Grade/Stenographers’ Grade B (Limited Departmental Competitive Examination) Regulations, 1964 thus bringing the matter under Article 16 (4A) of the Constitution. The Central Administrative Tribunal while deciding upon the validity of 1997 Office Memorandum considered the judgment delivered in S. Vinod Kumar case which did not take into consideration Article 16(4A). The Appellant was represented by Dr. K.S. Chauhan and the respondent by Mr. Ranjit Kumar, Solicitor General.

The constitution bench not deeming it necessary to go into the intricacies and validity of Article 16(4A) of Constitution as the same had been dealt in depth by the Court in M. Nagraj v. Union of India, (2006)8 SCC 212, observed that Article 16(4A) was inserted in the Constitution to undo the observations in Indra Sawhney v. Union of India, 1992 Supp (3) SCC 217, that there can not be dilution of standards in matters of promotion. Since, the Court in S. Vinod Kumar case did not take into account the provisions of Article 16(4A), therefore, it was declared as bad law. The Court thus declaring the 1997 memorandum illegal directed the respondents to modify the results in the Section Officers/Stenographers (Grade B/Grade-I) Limited Departmental Competitive Examination, 1996 by providing for reservation.  Rohtas Bhankhar v. Union of India, Civil Appeal Nos. 6046-6047/2004, decided on 15.07.2014

To read the full judgment, refer to SCCOnLine

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