Can't deny quota benefits to 'creamy layer' of SC/STs

Can't deny quota benefits to 'creamy layer' of SC/STs

Supreme Court

The Centre on Thursday asserted before the Supreme Court that SC/ST employees from the affluent background cannot be denied quota in promotions in government jobs.

The apex court had asked the Centre if those belonging to 'creamy layer' among SC/ST should be given quota benefits in promotion.

“After the declaration of particular groups or castes as SC or ST by the President under Articles 341 and 342 respectively of the Constitution, the concept of creamy layer can enter. If any change has to be made, it can be made by Parliament only,” Attorney General K K Venugopal submitted before a five-judge Constitution bench presided over by Chief Justice Dipak Misra.

The top law officer was arguing on behalf of the Union government to seek reconsideration of the 2006 M Nagaraj judgement by a five-judge bench that put the conditions like collection of quantifiable data, inadequacy of representation and overall efficiency for granting reservation in promotions to the SC/ST employees under Article 16(4A) of the Constitution.

The bench, also comprising Justices Kurian Joseph, R F Nariman, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Indu Malhotra, however, pointed out what the 2006 judgement said was that the adequacy of representation has to be rational, reasonable and fair and not arbitrary.

“Suppose the backwardness goes, what about adequacy of representation? How would you decide the figure without quantifiable data,” the bench asked.

Venugopal contended the Nagaraj judgement created huge confusion and chaos, besides doing great disservice, as it mandated collection of quantifiable data on the representation of SC/STs for granting them reservation in promotion.

“Even today, people from SC/ST communities get converted to Buddhism as they still feel stigma marked with indelible ink which cannot be wiped out...they have to marry within their own castes. We have seen if a bridegroom rides a horse and take out the marriage procession, he is beaten up,” Venugopal said.

The government should be allowed to take affirmative actions in their favour and in no case, their strength would be beyond 50 %, he added.