NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court has sought response of the Centre and the Chief of the Army Staff on a plea alleging that only three castes were considered for recruitment to the President’s Bodyguard.
A bench of Justices S Muralidhar and Sanjeev Narula issued a notice to the Ministry of Defence, Chief of the Army Staff, Commandant of the President’s Bodyguard and Director, Army Recruitment, on the petition.
“Reply shall be filed within four weeks. Rejoinder, if any, shall be filed before the next date. List on May 8, 2019,” the bench said.
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 September 4, 2017 as only three castes — Jats, Rajputs and 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 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,” the plea alleged.
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.
“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,” it alleged.
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.
“Quash the recruitment of the President’s Bodyguard as the same being unconstitutional and against the fundamental right of the citizens of India,” it said.
Earlier, the Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court had refused to entertain a PIL on the issue, saying it does not get into this kind of PILs.
Recruitment Was Always Caste-Based
The President’s Bodyguard, one of the oldest units of the Indian army, has always recruited on the basis of caste. Under the British, in the beginning, the recruits were mainly Awadi and Bihari Muslims. Then Rajputs from Eastern Uttar Pradesh were taken thanks to Raha Chait Singh of Benaras. This was followed by Deccani and Madras Muslims. After the Great Indian Mutiny in 1857, recruitment was from the so-called martial castes of North India, such as the Sikhs, Rajputs, Ahirs and Punjabi Muslims. After the partition of India in 1947, the Punjabi Muslims left for Pakistan and the Bodyguard was recruiting from Jats, Rajputs, Jat Sikhs and Ahirs now called Yadavs. Apparently, as per new rules, the Yadavs/Ahirs have been left out.