SC dismisses K'tka plea for 6-month time for promotion

SC dismisses K'tka plea for 6-month time for promotion

The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a plea made by the Karnataka government to grant six months for revising promotion list of all employees, after invalidation of the reservation law in promotion to the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe staff in a judgement on February 9, 2017.

A bench of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and U U Lalit gave one month for taking consequential action after senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing the state government, submitted seniority list of all departments has been revised.

"If the directions are not complied with, the chief secretary has to appear personally before the court on April 25," the bench said, on a plea seeking contempt action against top officials of the state for not complying to directions issued in the judgement in the 'B K Pavitra and others versus Union of India' (2017).

The court also rejected a plea for maintaining status quo because of pendency of a matter before a Constitution bench on validity of judgement in 'M Nagaraj versus Union of India' (2006).

"Mere reference of the matter to the Constitution bench does not put cloud of suspicion on our judgement. When subsequent change of law would take place, it would apply here also. We are at present examining this case, where the state is not justified in not implementing our judgement," the bench said.

Senior advocate Rajiv Dhavan, appearing for the employees whose promotions were stuck, contended that the apex court had earlier in its judgement given three months for revising the seniority list and three months thereafter for consequential action. There was extension of time till January and further till March 15. "There can be no more excuse. There is undoubted lassitude on their part. Please summon the chief secretary and the MD of power corporations, everything will be done," he said.

The counsel also contended the state government did not want to take any action as the state Assembly elections were in the offing.

Rohatgi, arguing on behalf of the state government, submitted that seniority list of all departments has been completely revised but no consequential action on promotion or demotion has been taken. He contended that the matter should be adjourned at least till July as the question related to validity of the Nagaraj judgement, which formed the basis of the February 9 judgement, has been referred to the Constitution bench. He pointed out similar issues had arisen in Tripura and Maharashtra, wherein status quo has been ordered.

The counsel also submitted the state Assembly passed a validating law 'the Karnataka Extension of Consequential Seniority to Government Servants Promoted on the Basis of Reservation (To posts in the Civil Services of the State) Bill, 2017' which is pending assent from the President.

"It would not be apposite to insist on promotion and demotion as the state has passed validating Act and the review petition filed by the state was also pending," he said. Senior advocate Abhishek M Singhvi, representing the SC/ST Employees Welfare Association, supported the state's plea and sought direction to maintain status quo.

Both the counsel also pointed out a separate bench led by Justice Madan B Lokur had ordered status quo in the matter.

Dhavan, however, vehemently countered their plea, contending status quo was obtained "surreptitiously, behind our back" without informing Justice Lokur-led bench that the state government's action arose out of the judgement passed by the present bench.

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