SC/ST in one state can’t claim benefit in another: SC

The Supreme Court on Thursday emphasised that it was impermissible under the Constitution for a state government to alter the list of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes declared by the presidential order.

A member of the SC/ST community from one state cannot claim reservation in government jobs in another state if his/her community does not figure in the list, it said.

A five-judge Constitution bench presided over by Justice Ranjan Gogoi reiterated that the enabling provision under Article 16(4) would be available to provide reservation only to the classes or categories of SCs/STs enumerated in the presidential orders for a particular state/union territory within the geographical area of that state and not beyond.

“Unilateral action by states on the touchstone of Article 16(4) of the Constitution could be a possible trigger point of constitutional anarchy and, therefore, must be held to be impermissible under the Constitution,” the bench, also comprising justices N V Ramana, Mohan M Shantanagoudar and S Abdul Nazeer, held.

In a separate judgement, Justice R Banumathi concurred to this finding. But she disagreed to the conclusion by the majority of the bench that so far as the National Capital Territory of Delhi was concerned the pan-India reservation rule in force was in accord with the constitutional scheme relating to services under the Union and the states/union territories.

The majority judgement, authored by Justice Gogoi, said that if in the opinion of a state it is necessary to extend the benefit of reservation to a class/category of SCs/STs beyond those specified in the lists for that particular state, constitutional discipline would require the state to make its views in the matter prevail with the central authority so as to enable an appropriate parliamentary exercise to be made by an amendment of the lists for that particular state.

In a matter arising out of a civil appeal filed by Bir Singh aganist the Delhi Jal Board, the bench by a majority (4:1) held insofar as the services in connection with the affairs of the Union was concerned (Central Services), wherever the establishment may be located, i.e. in the National Capital Territory of Delhi or in a state or within the geographical areas of Union Territory, recruitment to all positions is on an all-India basis and reservation provided for is again a pan-India reservation. It also noted that subordinate services in Delhi were clearly central civil services.

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SC/ST in one state can’t claim benefit in another: SC

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