MBC/DNC candidates with high marks should be part of general merit list: SC

They should not be thrust into filling up backlog vacancies meant for reserved communities, says Bench

The Supreme Court has held that candidates from Most Backward Class/ Denotified Community (MBC/DNC) who have scored high marks should be part of the general merit list and not thrust into filling up backlog vacancies meant for reserved communities.

A three-judge Bench led by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul was interpreting Section 27(f) of the Tamil Nadu Government Servants (Conditions of Service) Act, 2016.

In its recent judgment, the apex court confirmed a nine-year-old Madras High Court decision in K.R. Shanthi case that “candidates selected on merit under open quota should not be adjusted against reserved vacancy.”

The case concerned the Tamil Nadu government’s move to fill up backlog vacancies for Postgraduate Assistants in Chemistry with meritorious MBC/DNC candidates.

The Madras High Court had held that the State acted erroneously. The High Court concluded that the meritorious candidates should be, instead, placed in the general merit list. The State had appealed in the apex court.

Justice Kaul explained that the legislative intention of Section 27(f), which mandates the creation of “backlog vacancies” was to “propagate the social philosophy of vacancies for reserved category not lapsing in case there are inadequate number of candidates.”

However, the provision did not contemplate pushing meritorious MBC/DNC candidates into filling up backlog vacancies irrespective of their high marks. These candidates who have proved they could compete on equal terms with others should find a place in the general merit list.

The court said the general merit list should be drawn first after an exam, followed by the backlog and current vacancies lists for reserved categories.

“The general merit list is to be first filled in. Then the backlog vacancies of the particular reserved category to be filled in. Thereafter, the remaining reserved vacancies for the current year has to be filled,” the court explained the sequential order.

The apex court agreed with the High Court that the State had wrongly concluded that the backlog vacancies for PG Chemistry Assistants must be filled in by MBC/DNC category candidates, irrespective of merit or rank.

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