The Madras High Court today has dismissed the pleas which sought relaxation of the upper age limit from 45 years to 48 years for other Backward Classes to appear for the District Judge exam, on par with the age relaxation is given for Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe candidates.
The bench comprising of Chief Justice AP Sahi and Justice Subramonium Prasad observed that the reservation is provided under Article 16 of the Constitution of India for equitable representation of oppressed classes. While the petitioner requested the court that they too should get the benefit of age relaxation as was the case with the candidates of SC/ST which stands 48 years, the bench asserted that “We may clarify that the issue of reservation cannot be mixed up with the question of relaxation of age.”
The issue aroused when on 13 January 2019, the Tamil Nadu government issued a notification for filling 31 vacancies of District Judges. The notification specifically mentioned that the upper age limit for the categories of BC, MBC, DC was fixed as 48 years while for other unreserved categories it was 45 years as on 1 July 2019. Since none of the candidates secured minimum qualifying marks prescribed to clear the preliminary exams, there remained no eligible candidates for selection to the post of district judges as per the notification.
Subsequently, the government issued a second notification on 12 December 2019 to fill up 32 vacancies leaving the categories of BC, MBC, DC in the maximum upper age limit of 48 years. Thus, it was challenged in the present petition.
Dismissing the petition, the bench referred to the report of Shetty Commission, which in its final recommendation extended the benefit of relaxation of age up to 48 years only for SC/ST candidates. The bench further stated that there was no relaxation in the upper age limit extended to the other BC candidates.
“When no such relaxation was either contemplated by the Shetty Commission or even indicated in the All India Judges’ Association and others, we do not find any of the judgments relied on by the counsel for the petitioners coming to their aid for extending the benefit of relaxation in age to the BC category candidates on par with the SC/ST candidates,” asserted the court.
The bench further added that “Additionally, it is an admitted position that the SC/ST category candidates are placed on a different scale as compared to the Other Backward Classes. This is supported by the constitutional scheme by making separate provisions for both these classes.”