HC reprieve for PWD engineers

HC reprieve for PWD engineers

Hearing several writ petitions filed by M Nagaraj and others, sent back by the Supreme Court, the division bench comprising Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice Aravind Kumar directed the Chief Secretary not to revert the petitioners from their present posts while proceeding with the final seniority lists of engineer belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Tribes. The court has also directed all respondents to file objections in the petition.

The petitioners had challenged final gradation list of Assistant Executive Engineer (AEE) issued on March 23, 2009 and Executive Engineers (EE) issued on January 2, 2010. Udaya Holla, former Advocate General and counsel for the petitioners submitted that both final seniority lists were contrary to Supreme Court order and Karnataka Administrative Tribunal order.  

The case

The 85th amendment to the Constitution provides reservation in promotion with retrospective effect from June 17, 1995 to persons belonging to SCs and STs.  Accordingly, the State Government enacted the law of Karnataka Determination of Seniority of Government Servants promoted on the basis of reservation (to the post of civil service) Act 2002.

The Act empowers the government to determine the reservation basis promotion to SC and ST engineers in PWD, Irrigation and other government departments. Based on it, the Government had accorded the reservation based promotion with retrospective effect from April 27, 1978.

Challenging the constitutional validity of the 2002 Act before the Supreme Court, the petitioners, Nagaraj and others stated that the Constitutional amendment came to effect in 1995, but the government had given effect to it from 1978.

The Supreme Court passed the interim order on April 8, 2002 directing the State Government not to revert the petitioners from the post and disturb their seniority and promotion. The court had also permitted the government to promote those benefited by the amendment in such a way that it does not affect the petitioners in any manner.

Based on the Supreme Court order, the State Government had published the provisional seniority list of AEE and EE of PWD on April 11, 2002 and the same was submitted before the Supreme Court by a sworn affidavit. Accordingly, the petitioners have been placed above the reserved category of engineers.

But in the final seniority list published in January 2, 2010, the Government reduced the ranking of the petitioners. The petitioner, fearing that based on final seniority list their post may revert back, moved the Apex Court. While transferring all the petitions to High Court for hearing on March 18, 2010, the Supreme Court extended the earlier interim order.

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