Poll code no bar to act on order on promotions: SC

The Supreme Court on Wednesday declared that the Model Code of Conduct enforced by the Election Commission in poll-bound Karnataka would not come in the way of state government in implementing a judgement to grant promotion to the employees after invalidation of law on a reservation in promotion to SC/ST staff.

A bench of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and U U Lalit clarified the position after senior advocate Basava Prabhu Patil, on behalf of the state government, expressed apprehension that some of the employees from general and other categories could not be promoted in compliance with the apex court’s judgement of February 9, 2017 in view of the Model Code of Conduct for Assembly polls on May 12.

The top court had in ‘the B K Pavitra case’ declared the Karnataka law on a reservation in promotions to the SC/ST employees as ultra vires of the Constitution, resulting into demotion of an estimated 20,000 employees.

Examining the issue of compliance of its directions on consequential actions including reversion (demotion) and promotion, the court took serious note of contention made by senior advocate Kiran Suri and Kumar Parimal, representing some of the beneficiary employees, that the affidavit filed by chief secretary K Ratna Prabha was bereft of facts and the promotion of all staff has not taken place.

The court asked Patil, assisted by state Advocate General Madhusudan R Naik, to file a fresh affidavit by May 1, explaining the date-wise promotion and demotion of employees after revision of the seniority list in its departments and boards.

The apex court also restrained the Karnataka High Court and the Karnataka Administrative Tribunal (KAT) from entertaining any petition against the state government’s notifications issued to ensure compliance with the February 9, 2017 judgement.

“The KAT will not grant stay in any order, where the state government is acting in compliance with the judgement. This will apply to the High Court,” the bench ordered.

The court also vacated any stay granted by either the KAT or the high court in the matter after beneficiary employees counsel contended that the tribunal had ordered for status quo in 500 petitions by the affected staff. The council also pointed out as many as seven special leave petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court against the state government’s notifications issued to comply with the top court’s ruling.

The court put the matter for further consideration on May 9. It also allowed the beneficiary employees counsel to file their response by May 8 to the state government’s affidavit on the promotion of the staff.

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