December 26, 2018:
On Wednesday, the Delhi High Court has sought response of the Centre and the Chief of the Army Staff on a petition alleging that only three castes were considered for recruitment to the President’s Bodyguard.
Bench comprising of Justice S Muralidhar & Justice Sanjeev Narula issued notice to the Ministry of Defence, Chief of the Army Staff, Commandant of the President’s Bodyguard and Director, Army Recruitment, on the petition.
The bench said,”Reply shall be filed within 4 weeks. Rejoinder, if any, shall be filed before the next date. List on May 8, 2019.”
The court was hearing a PIL by Haryana resident Gaurav Yadav, who sought setting aside of the recruitment of President’s Bodyguard which was held on Sep 4, 2017 as only three castes – Jats, Rajputs & Jat Sikhs were invited for it.
The petitioner said he belonged to Ahir/Yadav caste and fulfilled all the eligibility criteria of recruitment as President’s Bodyguard except caste and sought that he be recruited for the post.
The petition, filed through advocate Ram Naresh Yadav, said the “preferential treatment” provided to the three castes has deprived other citizens, who were also eligible, of the opportunity of recruitment.
The petition alleged, “The recruitment criteria so formulated and followed contains an arbitrary classification which is based on caste and henceforth, it being in the nature of class legislation, stands in complete violation of Article 14 of the Constitution of India. Also, the recruitment process stands in violation of Article 15(1) which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, religion, caste, sex, colour and place of birth.”
It said there was discrimination in the recruitment process on the basis of caste and that Article provides for non-discrimination by the state in employment to public office.
It alleged, “However, in the present case, since only three castes were allowed to be recruited to the office of Presidential Bodyguards, which is indeed a public office, there is violation of Article 16 as well.”
The petition sought quashing of the recruitment policy based on caste/ region/ religion in the President’s Bodyguard and issuance of a direction to the Army to conduct the recruitment on non-discriminate grounds.
It said, “Quash the recruitment of the President’s Bodyguard as the same being unconstitutional and against the fundamental right of the citizens of India.”
Earlier, the Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court had refused to entertain a PIL on the issue, saying it does not get into these kinds of PILs.