T. Devadasan v. The Union of India & Anr.

After reading this judgement, you will learn that the Apex Court considered Article 14(6) in relation to the "carry forward rule" during appointment of backward persons in government services.
COURTSupreme Court of India
JUDGES/CORAMChief Justice S.R. Das, Justice Subbarao, Justice R. Dayal, Justice N. Ayyangar and Justice J.R. Mudholkar


The instant case was the landmark case wherein the carry forward rule was overruled and led to the evolution of the new doctrine of the reasonable in reservation system. Even after 68 years completed after the Constitution and the grace time of 10 years of reservation extended day today in the name of the welfare of the weaker section. However, when we look into practicality it is completely different.


The facts of the case are as follows: On 06.02.1960, the Union Public Service Commission issued a notification to the effect that a limited competitive examination for promotion to the regular temporary establishment of Assistant Superintendents of the Central Secretariat Service would be held in June, 1960. The notification further stated that a reservation of 12- 1/2% of the vacancies would be made for members of the Scheduled Castes and 5% for members of Scheduled Tribes. The result of this examination was announced by the Union Public Service Commission in April, 1961, and the Government made 45 appointments out of which 29 were from among the candidates belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Tribes. The result was that the reservation actually made in this case came to 65%. The petitioner, who was an assistant in Grade IV of the Central Secretariat Service, who expected to become a Section Officer (Assistant Superintendent) by way of promotion, challenged the validity of the “carry forward rule”


The main issue in the case was: Validity of the “carry forward rule” on the grounds that the rule contravened Arts. 14, 16 and Article 335 of the Constitution of India.

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Summary of court decision and judgment

Majority held that the “Carry forward rule”, as a result of which applicants belonging to Scheduled Castes or Tribes could get more than 50% of the vacancies to be filed in a particular year, is unconstitutional. Article 14 of the Constitution of India prohibits the State from denying to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of laws. This means equality among equals. The Article does not provide for an absolute equality of treatment to all persons in utter disregard in every conceivable circumstance of the differences such as age, sex, education and so on. A provision made by the State for the reservation of certain proportion of appointments and posts for backward classes in the public services of the State in order to provide them with an opportunity equal to that of the members of the more advanced classes, does not infringe Art. 14 of the Constitution of India provided that the reservation is not so excessive as to practically deny a reasonable opportunity for employment to members of other communities. The method evolved by the Government must be such as to strike a reasonable balance between the claims of the backward classes and claims of other employees, in order to effectuate the guarantee contained in Art. 16(1) and forthis purpose each year of recruitment would have to be considered by itself.


Referring to the cases of The Manager, Southern Railway v. Rangachari, [1962] 2 S.C.R. 586 and M. R. Balaji and Others v. The State of Mysore, [1963] Supp. 1 S.C.R. 439, concurrently it is clear that reservation for the welfare was affected other communities highly because of the so-called ‘carry forward rule’. While seeing the unreasonable way of exploiting this privilege by this rule is unconstitutional because Article 14 confers equality. Reservation to a particular class more than 50% is clearly unequal even it had some benefits. This difficulty was removed after 8 years of that rule enforced in government.

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In the present case, the petitioner questioned the rule which arose in 1955 as it affects equality. The guardians of the Constitution felt even they followed the reservation system to uplift the life of weaker sections that also needs to be reasonable for all the people equally and reasonable manner. So this rule considered as unconstitutional is the valid judgment that everyone can accept with it because the very prudent mind can see the inequality in the rule.