New Delhi: The Supreme Court of India asked the Union Government how it justifies its decision to grant quota in promotions to the employees belonging to the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) because they are inadequately represented. On Tuesday, the top court also asked the government whether it is sure that granting such a quota might not adversely impact the overall administrative efficiency.
The three-judge bench headed by Justice L Nageswara Rao told the government not to argue on principles but provide the court data that justifies its decision.
Appearing for the government, Attorney General (AG) KK Venugopal started with Supreme Court judgements right from the Indra Sawhney verdict of 1992, popularly known as Mandal Commission, and ended with Jarnail Singh verdict of 2018. The Mandal judgement had eliminated quota in promotions, but AG argued that the ruling concerned the backward classes but not SCs and STs. AG further said that Article 16 of the Constitution requires equality in matters of public employment, and if merit alone is the criteria, then the SCs and STs, who are disadvantaged socially, might not be able to compete.
Till 1975, on average, 3.5 per cent SCs and 0.62 per cent of STs were in government employment. In 2008, the figure rose to 17.5 and 6.8, respectively. Still, the figure is low; the AG argued while justifying the quota on promotions.
The court will continue hearing the case on Wednesday.
The top court had said on September 14 that it would not reopen its decision on granting reservation in promotions to SCs and STs. The court had observed that it rests in the hands of the states as to how to implement it.
The AG had argued earlier that the problem of the Union of India is that there were three interim High Court orders from which two say that promotions can continue to be made, but one issued status quo orders on the matter. He added that due to the three orders, there are umpteen governmental posts that remain stagnant- 1,400 posts at secretariate level and another 2,500 posts.