SC reserves judgement on SC/ST promotion plea

SC reserves judgement on SC/ST promotion plea

The court, which started hearing arguments in the matter, asked the parties to file their written submissions within a week.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved its judgement on a batch of petitions pertaining to reservation in promotion to the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe employees of the Karnataka government.

A bench of Justices U U Lalit and D Y Chandrachud wrapped up hearing after listening to the arguments by general category and reserved category employees as well as the Karnataka government, in the matter also related to the fresh law brought in the state to protect the affected staff, facing demotion after the February 9, 2017 judgement in the B K Pavitra case.

The general category of employees led by senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan and advocate Kumar Parimal sought directions to the state government to comply with the Pavitra judgement, which had quashed the law granting reservation in promotion to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe employees.

On Wednesday, Dhavan highlighted that the state government did not collect cadre-wise data and neither examined the issue of efficiency on administration before bringing a new law. He contended the creamy layer principle discussed in the Constitution bench judgement in Jarnail Singh has also been disregarded by the state government.

The counsel claimed there has been “willful disobedience” by the state government in compliance with the Pavitra judgement.

The court, which started hearing arguments in the matter, asked the parties to file their written submissions within a week.

The top court had in the Pavitra case had quashed the Karnataka law on reservation in promotion to the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe employees. The state government, subsequently, issued notifications revising the seniority list.

In the meantime, 'The Karnataka Extension of Consequential Seniority to Government Servants Promoted on the Basis of Reservation (To the Posts in the Civil Services of the State) Act, 2017' was passed to protect the interest of the SC/ST staff. The law received the President's assent last year. It was published in Gazette on June 23, 2018.

The state government, represented by senior advocate Basava Prabhu Patil had maintained that it had given due consideration to the principle of backwardness, the inadequacy of representation and overall efficiency on administration in passing the new law.

Senior advocates Indira Jaising, Dinesh Dwivedi and Nidhesh Gupta, among others, representing the affected employees from SC/ST communities, said about 8,000 employees have been demoted and the new Act which came into effect from June 23, last must be allowed to be implemented.

“A reading of the various apex court judgments makes it very clear that this court had consistently opined on the importance of providing for reservation in selection posts. It is apparent that the source of power was always available under Article 16(4) of the Constitution,” they said.

Notably, on March 1, the top court had stayed the Karnataka government's order of February 27 restoring cadre and pay scales of thousands of SC/ST employees, demoted in terms of the Pavitra case.

"When the hearing is at final stage on law, it is appropriate status quo is not altered," the court had said.