The Supreme Court has allowed centre to go ahead with the reservation in promotion for employees belonging to the SC and ST category in “accordance with law”. Centre had argued that entire process of promotion has come to a “standstill” due to the orders passed by various high courts and the apex court itself had ordered for “status quo” in a similar matter in 2015.
“We will say you (Centre) can go ahead with promotion in accordance with law,” a vacation bench comprising Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and Ashok Bhushan ordered.
The high courts of Delhi, Bombay and Punjab and Haryana had given separate verdicts on the issue and the Supreme Court too had passed different orders on appeals filed against those judgements.
In the course of arguments, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Maninder Singh, representing the Centre had said that the concept of ‘creamy layer’ cannot be applied to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes for promotions in government jobs.
Singh said the petition before the bench was the Centre’s challenge to the Delhi High Court’s August 23 last year verdict quashing government’s order extending reservation in promotion to employees belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes beyond five years from November 16, 1992.
He also referred to a May 17 order passed by a bench headed by Justice Kurian Joseph in a similar matter in which it was said that pendency of petition before it shall not stand in the way of the Centre taking steps for the purpose of promotion.
The ASG had further contended that another bench of the apex court had earlier said that a five-judge constitution bench would examine the issue as to whether the M Nagaraj judgement, which dealt with the issue of application of the ‘creamy layer’ for reservation to SC and ST categories in promotion in government jobs, was required to be re-looked at or not.
He also referred to Article 16 (4A) of the Constitution, which enables state to provide for reservation in matters of promotion to SC/ST which in its opinion were not adequately represented in the services.
“That is the enabling provision,” the bench observed. It said that as per Article 16 (4A), state would have to make out a case for providing reservation in promotion to SC/ST based on quantifiable data.
The provision also says that the data should be based on factors like backwardness, inadequacy of representation and overall efficiency.
The top court had referred the matter to a constitution bench while it was hearing a batch of petition which arose from a Bombay High Court verdict quashing two state government notifications terming them as ultra vires to Article 16(4A) of the Constitution.
The Delhi High Court, in its August 23 last year verdict, had set aside an August 1997 office memorandum issued by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) on the issue of reservation in promotion to the employees belonging to SC/ST.
The high court had also restrained the Centre from granting reservation in promotion without first collecting the data on inadequate representation.
The nine-judge bench of Supreme Court had, in the Indira Sawhney case in 1992, permitted reservation for the SCs and STs in promotion to continue for a period of five years from November 16, 1992.
(With inputs from PTI)