A curious phenomenon has emerged in various competitive exams held for government jobs across the country, where the cut-off mark for reserved category candidates was more than the cut-off for general category. In several examinations in various states such as Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi etc, the cut-off marks for reserved category seats, especially OBC category, were more than the general category.
For example, in the recruitment of sub-inspector of Railway Protection Force in March 2019, the Group A cut-off for OBC category was 95.53%, while the same for general category was 94.59%. For group F, it was 87.33% for OBC and 76.99% for general. In the Bihar civil services examination results declared in October this year, the cut-off for OBC category was 595, while the cut-off for general category was 588. Similarly, in Rajasthan Administrative Services and Allied Services examination of 2016, the cut-offs of General and OBC were 78.54% and 94.98%.
This has raised alarm bell among the reservation activists, with a demand to make changes in the law to prevent this from happening. Apna Dal leader Anupriya Patel raised this issue during the zero-hour in Lok Sabha on 5th December, and demanded amendments in the reservation laws, so that reserved category candidates who score more than the general category cut-off are given posting in the general category, not the reserved category.
In general, reserved category candidates can migrate to the general category if they score enough mark in the competitive exam. The Supreme Court has also clarified several times that reserved candidates can be posted in general category posts if they have secured the necessary marks. But there is a catch in this rule, which says that if a reserved category candidate avails other benefits of reservation in an examination, like the relaxation in upper age limit, relaxation in the number of attempts, reduced examination fee etc, such candidates can’t migrate to the general category at a later stage. As most reserved category candidates avail these benefits, they are considered not eligible for the general category, even if they score more than the cut-off mark.
The Supreme Court of India also has upheld this rule. In July this year, a bench of S Abdul Nazeer and Indira Banerjee had ruled the same, dismissing a plea by a candidate who had appealed against a Gujarat High Court order. As a results, those reserved category candidates who have availed such relaxations are are not placed in general category even if they have scored more than the cut-off mark for general category.
Moreover, as many reserved category candidates avail the age relaxation benefit, the number of candidates in the reserved categories go up, which eventually increases competition and the cut-off mark. Adding to this, several states have arbitrarily raised the relaxed age limit for reserved categories over the years, increasing the number of candidates competing for the reserved category posts.
Along with this, the population of OBC category accounts for 50% or more in several states, which means the population percentage is more than the reservation percentage in several states.
As this phenomenon is observed in more and more examinations, it can be said with certainity that the demand for an amendment in the law will increase.