Supreme Court lifts stay on Uttarakhand quota for women

The stay was lifted by a bench of justices S Abdul Nazeer and V Ramasubramanian against the HC’s August 24 ruling following an appeal by the state government.
Representational Image. (File | EPS)
Representational Image. (File | EPS)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday lifted a stay imposed by the Uttarakhand High Court on the state government’s 2006 order, which provided 30% horizontal reservation to women candidates of Uttarakhand origin in public employment.

The stay was lifted by a bench of justices S Abdul Nazeer and V Ramasubramanian against the HC’s August 24 ruling following an appeal by the state government. The state argued that the HC failed to consider the fact that the the government order hadn’t been challenged for around 15 years. It added that the intention of the legislation was to provide employment to women domiciled in the state.

The HC’s stay order had come following a challenge to the state’s 2001 and 2006 orders and also an advertisement dated August 10, 2021 related to Uttarakhand Combined State Civil/Upper Subordinate Service Exam, 2021. The advert had listed 224 vacancies for various posts in 31 departments. While staying the order, the HC bench of Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Ramesh Chandra Khuble had said the 30% reservation could be construed for women candidates irrespective of domicile or place of residence.

Jurists this reporter spoke to were divided on the SC’s decision. Senior advocate Vikas Singh welcomed it, saying, “I’m always in favour of horizontal reservation for women... Other states can follow suit. This is something that should universally apply.” However, senior advocate Sanjoy Ghose felt the domicile filter was regressive and against national unity. “What if other states reserve vacancies and exclude people from Uttarkhand from applying? This would amount to a backdoor means of bringing in the local reservation.”

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