New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has termed as "absurd" the UPSC's argument that while the number of vacancies in the All India Civil Services may vary before the final selection of candidates, the number of seats for the disabled would remain fixed. "You cannot say the number of reservations is fixed, but the number of vacancies might vary. What is this absurd argument? Either both are frozen or neither are frozen," a bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan said to the counsel for Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).
The bench was hearing a PIL challenging this year's notice announcing the details of the civil services preliminary examination, which is to be held on October 4. The plea claims that the notice neglects the minimum reservation to be provided to disabled persons.
The plea by NGO Sambhavana has alleged that in the exam notice only expected approximate vacancies for the disabled are mentioned and not the four per cent mandatory reservation mandated under the law. The observation by the court came after the UPSC said while the advertised vacancies in the All India Civil Services were 796, the number may go up by the time the candidates are selected.
However, it also said that the seats for disabled persons would remain the same as was announced in the public notice. It further said that it was not the persons who were unsuitable, "it is the environment which is".
"You (UPSC) should step into the shoes of the candidates who are preparing for two-three years for the civil services exam and give up other avenues of employment to focus on the All India Civil Services. Who asked you to keep the vacancies fluctuating? Keep it fixed," the bench said. It listed the matter for further hearing on November 16 by when the UPSC will clarify whether the number of seats for disabled would also increase if there is an increase in vacancies.
The petition, filed through advocates Krishan Mahajan and Ajay Chopra, has contended that the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act of 2016 mandates that every government establishment shall reserve 4 per cent of its total vacancies for those with benchmark disabilities. However, the UPSC exam notice only mentions "expected approximate vacancies" — a category that does not exist under the law.
"The notice becomes a fraud on the Act since it gives four per cent reservation of 796 expected approximate vacancies. To reserve something of that which does not legally exist is to legally give nothing," the petition has contended. The NGO further claims that there is a mathematical error in calculating the 4 per cent reservation in the expected vacancies numbering 796.
It has said that four per cent reservation of 796 would come to 31.8 or 32 vacancies, whereas according to the notice the number is 24. The petition further claims that even the subsequent distribution of the vacancies at the rate of one per cent per category of disability — deaf, blind, locomotor and multiple disabilities — is also not mathematically accurate.
It also said that even the backlog of vacancies have not been mentioned.