Supreme Court Clears Govt's Plea For Reservation Of SC/ST Employees In Promotion
In a recent ruling which comes as a relief to the Centre, a vacation bench of the Supreme Court on June 5 allowed it to go ahead with reservations in the promotion of Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Caste employees in “accordance with law” thereby paving the way for the Centre to implement its much-awaited promotion policy.
A bench comprising Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and Ashok Bhushan asked the Centre to go ahead and implement its reservation policy.
Here the term in ‘accordance with law’ roughly translates to the fact that under-representation of the SC and STs should be established while ensuring that administrative efficiency is not compromised.
At the hearing, the ASG cited the case laws with regard to the issue of quota and said that the apex court’s 2006 judgment in M Nagaraj will be upheld.
The M Nagaraj verdict stated the fact that the concept of ‘creamy layer’ is not applicable to the SCs and STs in promotions in government jobs like in two other earlier verdicts in 1992 and 2005 which dealt with the creamy layer in Other Backward Class Category.
The apex court in 2006 while upholding constitutional amendments for quotas in promotion called for data on the extent of backwardness which has been difficult to prove. This, coupled with uncertainty over the implementation of the policy has been caught in a series of judicial battles and stays ever since. Similarly, the apex court had also ordered a ‘status quo’ for a similar matter in 2015.
Additionally, with a number of state governments failing to follow the guidelines, the Delhi, Bombay, Haryana and Punjab High Courts brought the policy to a standstill in the Income Tax Department.
Notably, in August 2017, the Delhi High Court set aside an office memorandum issued by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) with regards to the SC/ST reservation.
According to The Indian Express, the vacation bench told Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Maninder Singh, “We will say you (Centre) can go ahead with promotion in accordance with law.”
The ASG further said that the petition was a challenge by the Centre to the Delhi High Court’s August 23 verdict which overwhelmed the Government’s order of extending reservation in promotion to employees belonging to SCs/STs beyond five years from November 16, 1992, The Free Press Journal reported.
According to The Hindu, Additional Solicitor-General Maninder Singh said promotions had come to a “standstill” because of the status quo order passed by the court in 2015.
According to the Times Of India, he further added, “There had been no promotion. All promotion is stayed. I am government and it is my duty to promote my employee as per the law. It is not that Nagaraj order is not to be complied with.”
Additionally, Singh also referred Article 16(4A) which gives provisions to the state to provide for reservation in matters of promotions concerning the backward classes.
As per the Article 16(4A), the State would have to provide adequate data relating to factors like Backwardness, the inadequacy of representation and overall efficiency, before enabling reservation.