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PIL filed in Punjab and Haryana High Court against caste-based recruitment of the President’s bodyguards

A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed in Punjab and Haryana High Court by a student in Gurgaon alleging that recruitment process for selection of the President’s bodyguards is caste-based. The plea filed by a 19-year-old college student in Gurgaon, Saurav Yadav has re-kindled a fierce debate of 2013 wherein the Supreme Court had said that Army recruitment was usually done on the lines of caste, region and religion.

In 2013, a PIL had been filed before the Supreme Court by one I.S. Yadav, a doctor hailing from Rewari in Haryana, seeking abolition of the Indian Army’s recruitment criteria for its duty soldiers on the grounds of caste, region and religion. However the Top Court had directed the Army to file a reply to it. The army while refuting the allegations in its affidavit had given justification that such grouping of people coming from a region in a regiment was done for the purpose of administrative convenience and operational requirements. Though it had admitted that there were 22 army regiments which were based on caste, region and religion.

This debate of 2013 has been reignited by the way of present petition before the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The President’s Bodyguard is an elite regiment of the Indian Army whose primary role is to escort and protect the President. The petitioner alleged that in September 2017 recruitment for the President’s bodyguards was held by the director of the Army Recruitment office. However the advertisement process made it mandatory for only three castes – Jat Sikhs, Hindu Jats and Hindu Rajputs – to apply. This was termed by the petitioner as a “gross violation of the Constitutional rights of all eligible citizens of India who are legally entitled to be recruited as the President’s bodyguards”

The PIL will be heard by the High Court on 8th March.

The Supreme Court too had dealt with a similar plea last month. The Plea had also alleged that candidates from only these three castes were recruited as the President’s bodyguards and that this practice was caste biased and discriminatory. However the Supreme Court Bench headed by CJI Dipak Misra had dismissed the plea, ruling that “the President of the Republic cannot be made subject matter of a PIL”.

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