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'More than 50% Women Reservation in Nursing Attendants Posts Permissible?': Supreme Court to Examine Issue in plea challenging AIIMS decision

Supreme Court to Examine Issue in plea challenging AIIMS decision

The Supreme Court on Friday, 9th July 2021, issued notice in a plea filed challenging the decision taken by AIIMS to provide 80% reservation to women with regard to direct recruitment to post of Nursing Attendants. A three- Judge Bench of Justices UU Lalit, Ajay Rastogi and Aniruddha Bose issued notice returnable on 6th September 2021.

Heard Mr. Ishkaran Singh Bhandari, Advocate, in support of the petition, who has placed certain judgments on the issue whether more than 50 per cent seats in respect of the posts of Nursing Attendants could be reserved for the females. There appears divergence of views," the Bench noted.

The present plea has been filed by a group of male nurses challenging order of the Patna High Court dated 23rd Sept 2020, dismissing their plea challenging order of Central Administrative Tribunal, Patna.

The plea before the Patna High Court was filed against CAT's decision to dismiss the petitioner's application challenging the Office Memorandum dated 28th October 2019 issued by Central Body Institute of AIIMS for providing 80% reservation to women with regard to direct recruitment to post of Nursing Officers.

The application had also challenged the AIIMS Patna's Corrigendum dated 15th Jan 2020 notifying posts of Nursing Officers (Staff Gr II) for direct recruitment reserving 80% seats for women.

According to the present plea, the present petitioners have diploma/degree in General Nursing Midwifery from Indian Nursing Council, and are employees of AIIMS Patna, on contractual basis who legitimately expect their future advancements in form of their regular appointments as and when direct recruitment is conducted against vacant seats of Nursing officer.

The plea has stated that after having acquired the required educational qualifications i.e. B.Sc.(Hons) Nursing or Diploma in general nursing, at least 2 years of experience in minimum 50 bedded hospital is a pre requisite for regular appointment against the posts of Nursing Officer ( Staff nurse Gr II).

The plea has stated that the Central Institute Body of AIIMS through its memorandum dated 28th October 2019 took a major decision that 80% of the post of Nursing Officers were to be reserved for females. An objection was then raised by All India Nurses Forum through its representation dated 27th 2019 to Minister of Heath & Family Welfare, objecting to the reservation and requesting to stay its further implementation.

Further it has been stated that while several other similar representations were made, before they could be decided, AIIMS Patna notified 206 posts of Nursing Officers for direct recruitment wherein 185 seats (90%) were reserved for women, and the reserved posts were thereafter reduced from 90% to 80% (165 posts).

The plea filed by Advocate Shantwanu Singh and drawn by Advocate Ishkaran Bhandari has argued that the 80% reservation to women with regard to the direct recruitment to posts of Nursing Officer is not a reasonable classification and the memorandum dated 28th October 2019 is inconsistent with Articles 14,15 and 16 and liable to be struck down.

Further the petitioner has argued that AIIMS's CIB, in capacity of a statutory body was not a competent to provide reservation to women because AIIMS Regulations 1999 provide for reservation to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes but do not provide reservation to women.

According to the petitioner, at an institution like AIIMS the criterion of recruitment must be efficiency, competence and expertise of the Nursing Officer and not a mere conjecture or speculation that Women are capable for rendering higher comfort and care to patients as compared to men.

Last year, the Principal Bench of Central Administrative Tribunal at New Delhi had upheld the 80% women reservation in nursing posts at AIIMS Delhi. 

(Case : Mahipal Singh Jahkar and others vs Union of India, SLP(c) 5736/2021).

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