Petitioners say classification of male and female nurses in separate groups is unconstitutional

The Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) has issued notice to the Centre and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on a plea to quash the decision of the premier institute to reserve 80% of seats for women for filling vacancies of Nursing Officer (Group B).

The CAT’s Principal Bench headed by Justice L. Narasimha Reddy, however, declined the interim relief sought by the petitioners to stay the recruitment process. The exam for the recruitment is scheduled for September 1.

The petitioners, Ranveer Singh and Sanjay Thalore, both holders of B.Sc (Nursing) degree and unemployed, have applied for the post of Nursing Officer in AIIMS Delhi and other newly constituted AIIMS in various cities.

They are aggrieved by the decision of the AIIMS to leave just 20% remaining Nursing Officer posts for male candidates.

The petition, filed through advocate Gyanant Kumar Singh, stated that it was beyond the competence of the Central Institute Body (CIB), AIIMS, to provide for such reservation as it was bound to follow the practices followed by the Central government even for deciding qualification and experience for the post.

Counsel argued that the previous recruitment process carried out by the AIIMS did not reflect any such discrimination by way of reservation for women in nursing.

‘Commendable service’

“There is no data, research or study to show unsuitability of male candidates who have so far been rendering commendable service in the profession, including during the ongoing fight against COVID-19,” the plea said.

The plea said, “There is no justification to reserve posts for women to provide ‘patient comfort and care’ as it is not a hospitality industry but here nurses are required to primarily perform medical/ technical work.”

Mr. Singh quoted various Supreme Court judgments to argue that the classification of male and female nurses in the separate groups as unconstitutional as it was “not based on any intelligible differentia and the classification has no nexus with the object sought to be achieved.”

The decision is “arbitrary, anti-merit, irrational, unfair, unreasonable and violative of the fundamental and basic rights of the applicants,” counsel said.

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