Lift status quo on SC/ST quota law

The Karnataka government on Friday told the Supreme Court it wanted to withdraw its oral assurance that it would not take any action in accordance with a new law passed to ensure reservation in promotion to employees belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

The top court, however, refrained from passing any order, saying “at the moment, we would not say anything. There are so many issues involved.”

A bench of Justices U U Lalit and K M Joseph recorded the submissions from parties and put the matter, arising out of compliance to the February 9, 2017 judgement as well as fresh petitions, challenging the validity of new law, for consideration after Dasara vacations on October 23.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing the state government, submitted, “The state has taken a conscious decision to withdraw the oral assurance given by the Advocate General (Uday Holla) on July 27 for maintaining the status quo.”

He also submitted after the Constitution bench’s decision on September 26 in ‘Jarnail Singh’s case on the issue of reconsideration of M Nagaraj judgement (2006) which ruled that states would no longer require to collect quantifiable data to determine backwardness of these groups, the status quo can no longer be maintained.

“We have a new law. There may be challenges to it. But we are duty-bound to implement it. We are facing a lot of problems. The new Act is in sync with the apex court’s judgement (of Sep 26). So our assurance comes to an end,” Rohatgi said.

His submission was supported by senior advocates Indira Jaising and Dinesh Dwivedi, representing the affected employees from SC/ST communities. They said about 8,000 employees have been demoted and that the new Act which came into effect from June 23, must be allowed to be implemented.

Strongly opposing their plea, senior advocates Rajeev Dhavan and Kiran Suri and advocate Kumar Parimal, representing the employees from general category, contended 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’, has been passed to nullify the apex court’s judgement of February 9, 2017 in the B K Pavithra case.

“This is a naked usurpation of judicial power,” Dhavan said. He also cited a seven-member bench decision by the Supreme Court in ‘Madan Mohan Pathak case’ (1978) to contend that a law cannot be passed to nullify the apex court’s judgement. He argued that the concept of creamy layer has to be applied even in case of SC/STs.

Senior advocate Basava Prabhu Patil, also appearing for the state government, submitted that the new legislation was in fact giving effect to the Pavithra case judgement.

The apex court had on February 9, 2017, struck down reservation in promotions for the SC/ST employees.

The new legislation came into existence after its publication in gazette on June 23, this year.

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Lift status quo on SC/ST quota law

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