Equal number of attempts for Physically Handicapped candidates of General and OBC Category in Civil Services Exams is a horizontal reservation and hence, not discriminatory

Supreme Court: In the petition filed by the Physically Handicapped candidates belonging to Other Backward Classes (OBC), claiming that they are entitled to avail 10 attempts instead of 7 attempts in the Civil Services Examination, the bench of Ranjan Gogoi and Ashok Bhushan, JJ held that the reservation provided to the Physically Handicapped Candidates of General and OBC category is a horizontal reservation. Both being provided 7 attempts to appear in Civil Services Examination, no discrimination or arbitrariness can be found as the Physically Handicapped Category is a Category in itself, a person who is physically handicapped be it Physically Handicapped of a General Category or OBC Category, suffering from similar disability has to be treated alike in extending the relaxation and concessions.

The said challenge was made on the ground that since the attempts for Physically Handicapped candidates belonging to General Category have been increased from 4 to 7, w.e.f. 2007 Civil Services Examination by Notification dated 29.12.2007, there should be a proportionate increase in attempts to be taken by Physically Handicapped Candidates belonging to the OBC Category.

Rejecting the said contention, the Court held that when the attempts of Physically Handicapped candidates of OBC Category and Physically Handicapped candidates of General Category, who appeared in the Civil Services Examination are made equal, and a Physically Handicapped candidate belonging to OBC Category, in addition to 10 years relaxation in age also enjoys 3 years more age relaxation for appearing in the examination, it cannot be said that there is discrimination between Physically Handicapped candidates of OBC Category and Physically Handicapped Candidates of General Category. The reserved category candidate belonging to OBC are separately entitled for the benefit which flow from vertical reservation, and the horizontal reservation being different from vertical reservation, no discrimination can be found when Physically Handicapped candidates of both the above categories get equal chances i.e. 7 to appear in the examination.

The Court also said that the horizontal reservation and relaxation for Physically Handicapped Category candidates for Civil Services Examination is a matter of Governmental policy and it is not in the domain of the courts to embark upon an inquiry as to whether a particular public policy is wise and acceptable or whether better policy could be evolved. The Court can only interfere if the policy framed is absolutely capricious and non-informed by reasons, or totally arbitrary, offending the basic requirement of the Article 14 of the Constitution. [Union of India v. M. Selvakumar, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 58, decided on 24.01.2017]

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