New Delhi: The Centre on Monday told the Lok Sabha that it would take "appropriate steps" following the Supreme Court's ruling on reservation in jobs and promotions for SCs/STs after considering the issue at the highest level.
It also attacked the Congress-led then Uttarakhand government in 2012 for "snatching the rights of deprived sections" through a decision on the matter.
In its verdict on February 7, on appeals that sought reservation for SCs/STs in promotions to Assistant Engineer (Civil) posts in the Uttarakhand Public Works Department, the Supreme Court said that the quotas and reservation in promotions for government jobs is not a fundamental right.
The court said it could not compel the states to provide quotas and that the states could not be forced to make such provisions without data showing an imbalance in representation of certain communities in public services.
Speaking during the ongoing general discussion on the Union Budget for 2020-2021, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot said that the central government was determined to ensure the welfare of Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs).
Calling the Supreme Court's Friday ruling on the issue as a "very important subject", the Minister said that the government is "considering it at the highest level".
The Minister said neither the Indian government was ever made a party nor asked for an affidavit in the matter.
He clarified that the matter cropped up after the then Uttarakhand government on November 5, 2012, decided not to allow reservations in promotions in the state, which was challenged in court. "There was a Congress government in Uttarakhand in 2012," Thawar Chand Gehlot pointed out.
The Minister's statement comes after the opposition, and even some ruling party allies, attacked the Centre for intervening in the matter.
The Congress lawmakers staged a walkout after they were not allowed to speak following Gehlot's statement.
The apex court last week overturned a 2012 ruling by the Uttarakhand High Court that had directed the state to provide quotas to specified communities.