Centre makes a pitch for SC/ST quota in promotions

The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Centre as to why states have not come forward with any quantifiable data to decide the inadequacy of representation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in government services even 12 years after its verdict on the 'creamy layer'. DH file photo

The Centre on Friday asked the Supreme Court to do away with the criteria laid down 12 years ago on reservation in promotion to SC/ST employees in public employment, saying it was practically impossible to collect quantifiable data on inadequacy of their representation.

The court, however, said that the backwardness of the community is assumed, but inadequacy of representation has to be ascertained.

The Union government led by Attorney General K K Venugopal contended before a five-judge Constitution bench presided over by Chief Justice Dipak Misra that the government should be allowed to take “positive action for thousand years of deprivation for SC/ST communities”. He said the 22.5% reservation for the community has to protected and that it would in no situation exceed the limit of 50%.

“Even today, the SC/ST staff are not able to compete with upper caste,” he contended.

Arguing for reconsideration of the 2006 M Nagaraj judgement by the five-judge bench, Venugopal said that criteria like inadequacy of representation, overall backwardness and collection of quantifiable data for making reservation in promotion to SC/ST employees must be done away with.

However, the bench, also comprising justices Kurian Joseph, R F Nariman, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Indu Malhotra, told him, “The judgement (Nagaraj) was about Article 16(4) of the Constitution, which is an enabling provision. The promotion is accelerated seniority. How can the states grant reservation in promotion without quantifiable data?”

“If it is command of the Constitution, it is required to have quantifiable data. No state collected quantifiable data. Why didn’t they do it,” the bench further asked the top law officer.

“How would you decide the adequacy of representation as vacancies keep on changing every day,” Venugopal responded. He maintained if there was an insistence on the restrictions as mandated in the judgement, the community members would continue to lose year after year.

Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, representing the opposite sides, contended that even SC/ST communities can be split on the basis of backwardness and the concept of creamy layer has to be applied.

The court put the matter for further consideration on August 16. It also refused to pass any interim order. The court is examining if the 2006 judgement should be reconsidered. If the court agrees for it, the matter will be referred to a seven-judge bench.

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Centre makes a pitch for SC/ST quota in promotions

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