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SC allows quota in SC/ST employees' promotion until Constitution bench decides on issue

By Deepika

The Supreme Court on Tuesday granted the Centre permission to promote SC/ST employees as per law until its Constitution bench decides on it.

Supreme court

The Supreme Court, however, did not specify which law the government will follow in providing quota in promotion to the SC/ST employees.

The top court took into account the Centre's submissions that entire process of promotion has come to a "standstill" due to the orders passed by various high courts and the apex court had also ordered for "status quo" in a similar matter in 2015.

The government said there were separate verdicts by the high courts of Delhi, Bombay and Punjab and Haryana on the issue of reservation in promotion to SC/ST employees and the apex court had also passed different orders on appeals filed against those judgement.

"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 told Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Maninder Singh, representing the Centre

During the hearing, the ASG cited the case laws on the issue of quota in promotion in government jobs and stated that the apex court's 2006 judgement in M Nagaraj case would be applicable.

The M Nagaraj verdict had said that creamy layer concept cannot be applied to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes for promotions in government jobs like two earlier verdicts of 1992 Indra Sawhney and others versus Union of India (popularly called Mandal Commission verdict) and 2005 E V Chinnaiah versus State of Andhra Pradesh, which dealt with creamy layer in Other Backward Classes category.

The apex court order came after a vacation bench of justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and Ashok Bhushan allowed a plea demanding urgent hearing of the special leave petition filed against the Delhi High Court's August 23, 2017 directive which said that the government could not blindly provide for reservation in promotion to SC/ST employees.

On August 23, last year,the Delhi high court had restrained the government from granting any reservation, in promotion to Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes, in exercise of the power conferred by Article 16 (4A) of the Constitution, without, in the first instance, carrying out the necessary preliminary exercise of acquiring quantifiable data indicating inadequacy of representation.

There has to be evaluation of the situation by taking into consideration the said data, along with the competing considerations of backwardness and overall efficiency in administration and arriving at an empirical decision on that basis.

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