The Supreme Court on Friday conceded that there was an apparent error in a judgement pronounced a year ago by which it was held that benefits of reservation can be extended to SC/ST category employees in banks in Group-A posts which carry an ultimate salary of Rs 5,700 per month.
A bench comprising Justices J Chelameswar and A K Sikri ordered deletion of those paragraphs of the judgement that had contained the mistake and said, “once we find an error apparent on the face of the record and to correct the said error, we have to necessarily allow these review petitions.”
Allowing a batch of review petitions filed by various banks including chairman and managing director Central Bank of India, the bench found force in the argument of Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi.
Agreeing with his view, the court said “it is this error, which is apparent on the face of the record, viz the reservation is provided in promotion by selection respect of posts carrying salary of less than Rs 5,700 per month, that has led to further error that such reservation in the matter of promotion is applicable from Scale I upward up to ScaleVI.”
Rohatgi had said that a fundamental error had crept in the judgment in which it was observed that reservation is provided to SC/ST employees. However, the operative portion of the verdict was contrary as it had held that there was no reservation in this category.
The AG said that the SC/ST employees of the particular class can get reservation in promotion, though in the previous paragraph of the judgement, the court had reiterated that “there is no reservation in promotion by selection in Group-A posts which carry an ultimate salary of Rs 5,700 per month and in such cases it is only the concession that applies.”
The apex court had on January 9 last year ruled that the Constitution enabled government to provide for reservation of SC/ST category employees even in promotions but courts cannot direct them to make such a provision.
The court had then said the aggrieved employees, belonging to SC/ST categories, could themselves seek redressal from the court if they are denied the rightful promotions.
“Insofar as making of provisions for reservation in matters of promotion to any class or classes of post is concerned, such a provision can be made in favour of SC/ST category employees if, in the opinion of the State, they are not adequately represented in services under the State.
“Thus, no doubt, power lies with the State to make a provision, but, at the same time, courts cannot issue any mandamus to the State to necessarily make such a provision. It is for the State to act, in a given situation, and to take such an affirmative action,” the bench had said.
Whenever, there exists such a provision for reservation in the matters of recruitment or promotion, it would bestow an enforceable right in favour of persons belonging to SC/ST category and on failure on the part of authorities to reserve posts in selections or promotions, the employees concerned can move the court to get their rights enforced, it had said.