The Supreme Court has granted relief to women candidates who could not appear for the physical test during the selection process for Bihar Police held in 2018 because of their pregnancy and directed the Bihar Police Subordinate Service Commission to conduct a fresh test for such applicants.
A bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Krishna Murari asked the commission to conduct the physical test of the candidates and adjust them against vacancies notified this year.
The top court's order came on an appeal filed by one Khusbu Sharma, challenging the judgement of division bench of the Patna High Court, which had overturned the order of a single judge of the High Court that had granted relief to her and asked the commission to conduct the physical examination of Sharma after two months.
"We are of the view that not only the appellant (Sharma) but all such candidates who sought deferment on account of pregnancy alone should be called for Physical Efficiency Test (PET). Since sufficient time has elapsed, we see no reason to further postpone the PET on that account for such candidates," the apex court stated in its verdict.
"Out of the candidates so called those who qualify the PET and are otherwise found in the merit for appointment alone would be eligible to be considered for appointment, subject to verification of the factum of pregnancy," it read.
Before approaching the High Court, Sharma had made representation to the commission seeking postponement of date of physical examination for selection to the Bihar Police. She could not attend the physical test as her delivery was likely to take place in the month when the examination was scheduled.
The Commission did not reply to her representations which prompted her to approach the court.
In the Patna High Court, the commission told that there were 14 other candidates who have approached it and their cases were still pending.
Apart from this, there are certain other candidates also, and the total number of ladies who claimed an extension of PET on the basis of pregnancy or injuries is stated to be 78 in all, out of which 73 are on account of pregnancy, the High Court was told.
The apex court opined that the presence of lady members in the police force, considering the crime against women is a prime need of the hour and endeavour should be made to ensure higher representation of women in the police services.
"It is not as if some quota is being carved out for the women candidates but they are competing against men candidates. They have been successful in competitive examination getting higher merit," the top court said.
( With inputs from ANI )