The Revival of Ray LXVII

State of J&K v. Triloki Nath Khosa, (1974) 1 SCC 19 explained, a classification for the purpose of Article 14 (as the present minimum age criteria undoubtedly is, in the present case) based on any criteria, must be based on a distinct characteristic, having a rational nexus with the object of the norm, or the law. Similarly, Mohd. Shujat Ali v. Union of India, (1975) 3 SCC 76 cautioned against over-classification, based on artificial distinctions between two categories falling within the same class, in matters of public employment.

In the present case, the rule has the effect of excluding deserving candidates, without subserving any discernible public policy or goal. Thus, the classification is based on no justifiable rationale; nor can it be said that the age criterion has some nexus with the object sought to be achieved, such as greater efficiency or experience.

The qualification of a minimum age of 50 years as essential for appointment, is discriminatory because it is neither shown to have a rational nexus with the object sought to be achieved, i.e. appointing the most meritorious candidates; nor is it shown to be based on any empirical study or data that such older candidates fare better, or that younger candidates with more relevant experience would not be as good. It is plain and simple, discrimination based on age. The criterion (of minimum 50 years of age) is virtually “picked out from a hat” and wholly arbitrary.

Hon’ble Justice S. Ravindra Bhat, Madras Bar Association v. Union of India, [Writ Petition (Civil) No. 502 of 2021].