New Delhi, May 4: Arguments in the Supreme Court spread over several weeks on the contentious issue whether the benefits of reservation was a one time affair or it is applicable in promotions also were concluded today.
A constitution bench headed by the Chief Justice Y.K. Sabharwal today reserved its verdict after conclusion of arguments on a bunch of petitions. Other judges on the bench were Mr. Justices K.G.
Balakrishnan, S.H. Kapadia, C.K. Thakker and P.K. Balasubramanyan.
The petitioners M. Nagraj and others have challenged the constitutional validity of 77th constitutional (amendement)Act,1995 passed by the Parliament inserting Article 16(4A) in the Constitution allowing the reservation in promotion to the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.
The Supreme Court in Indra Sawhney case popularly known as Mandal Commission case in 1992 had permitted the state to grant benefit of reservation in promotion to the SC/ST members for another five years from the date of judgment i.e. November 16,1992.
The petitioners have also pleaded that right to promotion is not a mere statutory right. Equal opportunity and seniority attached to such promotion are facets of fundamental right under Article 16(1) of the Constitution.If an eligible candidate is not considered for promotion than it is clear violation of his or her fundamental rights.
The petitioners also contended that Parliament was not empowered to alter the basic structure of the constitution. Reservation in the promotion shall have adverse effect on the efficiency of the administration as merit will have to be sacrificed for promoting the persons on the basis of castes irrespective of their competence.
The union government however sought to justify the impugned amendment on the premises that reservation was a must for those belonging to economically and socially backward sections of society who have been long victims of exploiting and discriminatory case system in the Indian society and that efficiency in the administration would not be affected at all. The government also pleaded that there was no intention to circumvent the judgment of this case in Mandal Commission case and the Parliament had not tried to alter the basic structure of the constitution. It was on the other hand guided by the considerations of social justice for the silent majority of the people of India who have been denied equal opportunities by the oppressive caste system prevalent in India and the framers of the Indian Constitution were also guided by the thoughts of upliftment of weaker and socially exploited sections of the society when they provided for reservations for this segment of society in government jobs. General category candidates will have to make some sacrifice for these economically and socially backward sections of the Indian society.