A Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra will on Wednesday pronounce its verdict on the government push to provide “accelerated promotion with consequential seniority” for Scheduled Castes/ Scheduled Tribe members in public employment.
Courtesy a 2006 M. Nagaraj judgment of the Supreme Court, the government cannot introduce quota in promotion for its SC/ST employees unless they prove that the particular Dalit community is backward, is inadequately represented and such a reservation in promotion would not affect the overall efficiency of public administration. The opinion of the government should be based on quantifiable data, too.
The Nagaraj judgment was pronounced by a five-judge Constitution Bench. Now, the government wants another five-judge Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra to refer the 2006 verdict to a larger Bench for a re-examination.
It had said that the 2006 verdict had effectively created an “impossible situation” for providing accelerated promotions with consequential seniority for SC/ST communities in government services.
Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal submitted that the SC/ST communities have faced centuries of deprivation at the hands of society. They have been deprived of access to temples, schools and the basic facilities of life. Even today, Dalit grooms cannot ride horses.
The government has also objected to a creamy layer concept among the SC/ST.
The government said it wanted a total of 22.5% posts reserved for promotion for SC/STs in public employment. Only this quantum would satisfy their need for adequate representation.
Mr. Venugopal said it was not possible to comply with every condition laid down by the Nagaraj judgment in 2006.
During the hearings, Chief Justice Misra has said the three — backwardness, inadequacy and administrative efficiency — were “compelling reasons” so that reservation by government was not excessive. The three qualifiers were meant to prevent reservation from making an inroad into the right of equal opportunity in public employment.
In November 2017, a two-judge Supreme Court Bench led by Justice Kurian Joseph had re-opened the issues of creamy layer and quota in promotions for SC/ST by referring them to a Constitution Bench.