The controversial constitution amendment bill to provide quota in promotions for SCs/STs, which has virtually kept the Rajya Sabha paralysed during the ongoing winter session, appears to have been caught between legality and political compulsions.
Though all major political parties except Samajwadi Party and Shiv Sena are supporting this bill, MPs across party lines concede that it may run into trouble if challenged in a court.
The general refrain is that the bill, which seeks to provide reservation in promotions for SC/STs, in its present form does not address the questions raised in Supreme Court’s April 28 judgment.
The government, which introduced this 117th constitution amendment bill in Rajya Sabha on September4, has pointed out in its statement of reasons: "In wake of the Supreme Court judgment in M Nagraj case in 2006, the prospects of promotion of the SC/ST employees are being adversely affected."
The government's argument is that the conditions imposed by the apex court on states wanting to implement quota in promotions, include "compelling reasons, namely — backwardness, inadequacy of representation and ascertaining overall administrative efficiency", create hurdles in the path of governments wanting to help weaker sections of the society.
Government officials admit that any amendment in the Constitution to justify quota in promotions will have to "frontally deal" with the issues raised by the Supreme Court, but the current bill, which is before the Rajya Sabha seeks to override the conditions laid down by the top court.
"The constitution bench of the Supreme Court, had in 2006 noted that all requirements would have to be fulfilled before giving reservation in promotions..," said an opposition MP.