Reservation in job promotions not compulsory: Supreme Court
SC refused to refer its 2006 verdict on SC/ST job promotion to a 7-judge bench
SC turned down Centre's plea for SC/ST to be considered for granting quota
A 5-judge Constitution bench pronounced the unanimous judgement
he Supreme Court today turned down an appeal to reconsider its own earlier order that had rejected the idea of reservations for Scheduled Castes (SCs) or Scheduled Tribes (STs) in job promotions.
The court today essentially upheld its 2006 order that had said that it was not mandatory for the government to give reservations in promotions in public sector jobs.
However, the court overturned one aspect of the 2006 order that had put a condition for the government to follow in case it wished to provide reservation in jobs.
The Supreme Court today held that states need not collect quantifiable data on the backwardness of SCs and STs for giving quota in job promotions. The 2006 order had made it mandatory for states to collect this data in case they wished to give reservations in job promotions.
A plea had asked the Supreme Court to set up a bench larger than the one that delivered the 2006 verdict and to reconsider the idea of having reservations for SCs and STs in job promotions.
The unanimous judgment today was pronounced by a five-judge Constitution bench.
The bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said that the states need not collect quantifiable data on the backwardness of SCs and STs for giving quota in job promotion to SC and ST employees.
The top court did not comment on two other conditions given in the 2006 verdict which dealt with the adequacy of representation of SCs and STs in promotions and not to disturb administrative efficiency.
The bench had reserved its verdict on August 30 after hearing various stakeholders, including the Centre, on the matter.
A five-judge constitution bench, in its 2006 verdict in the M Nagraj case, had said the states are bound to provide quantifiable data on the backwardness of SCs and STs, the facts about their inadequate representation in government jobs and the overall administrative efficiency, before providing quota in promotions to members of these communities.
The Centre and various state governments have also sought reconsideration of this verdict on various grounds, including that the members of the SC and ST communities are presumed to be backward and considering their stigma of caste, they should be given reservation even in job promotions.
The Centre has alleged that the verdict in the M Nagraj case had put unnecessary conditions in granting quota benefits to the SC and ST employees and sought its reconsideration by a larger bench.
Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, had strongly argued in favour of granting quota to SC and ST employees, saying there was a presumption of backwardness in their favour.
He had said the SC and ST communities have been facing caste-based discrimination for long and the stigma of caste is attached to them despite the fact that some of them have come up.
During one of the hearings, senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, who represents those opposing quota in promotions, had told the bench that earlier there was a presumption of backwardness with regard to scheduled caste and scheduled tribe communities.
There should not be quota in promotions for higher services as the presumption of backwardness of SC and ST employees "vanishes" once they join government service, he had claimed.
Dwivedi had also said quota in promotions for SC/ST may be continued for class-IV and class-III services, but should not be allowed for higher services.
Earlier, the top court had questioned the logic behind granting quota in promotions in government jobs to the kith and kin of affluent persons among the SC and ST communities who have been holding high official positions.
It had asked why the 'creamy layer' principle, used to exclude the affluent among Other Backward Classes (OBCs) from enjoying the fruits of reservation, cannot be made applicable to deny quota benefits in promotion to those affluent among the SC and ST communities.
With inputs from PTI