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Calcutta High Court’s Empowering Verdict: Opening Doors for Reserved Category Candidates in Unreserved Roles Based on Merit


The Calcutta High Court made a significant ruling in the case of Sahim Hossain vs State of West Bengal, stating that candidates from reserved categories can be considered for positions in the unreserved or general category, even if they have availed of age and fee relaxations meant for reserved categories. This decision was in response to an order by the West Bengal Administration Tribunal (WBAT), which had previously ruled against placing reserved category candidates in the unreserved category.

The dispute arose from the recruitment process initiated by the West Bengal Public Service Commission (WBPSC) for the Sub-Inspector position in the Subordinate Food and Supply Service in 2018.


The High Court reasoned that the relaxation in age and fees for reserved category candidates does not disqualify them from being considered in the unreserved category based on merit. The State of West Bengal had not imposed any prohibition on such considerations.

The Court also noted that reserved category candidates had not been granted any additional benefits beyond the statutory concessions. They had not received relaxation in qualifying marks or other advantages beyond what was legally required.

Some unreserved category candidates had contested the WBPSC’s decision to include reserved category candidates in the unreserved category when the former had scored lower or equal marks in the selection process, which included a written test and a personality test.


The High Court upheld the recruitment process and rejected the WBAT’s ruling. It stated that the Tribunal had incorrectly assumed a prohibition similar to the one in the State of Gujarat, which did not apply to West Bengal.

The Court set aside the order directing the revision of the merit list by removing reserved category candidates from the unreserved category. The petition filed by the WBPSC was allowed.

However, the Court did not accept the contentions of certain unsuccessful candidates who had raised objections to the recruitment process.


In a significant ruling, the Calcutta High Court affirmed that reserved category candidates can be considered for positions in the unreserved category based on merit, even if they have availed of age and fee relaxations. The Court found that the State of West Bengal had not imposed any such prohibition, and the recruitment process followed by the WBPSC was deemed valid. This decision has implications for the fair consideration of candidates from reserved categories in government job recruitments in West Bengal.

Written by — Athi Venkatesh

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