Government and semi-government employees in Maharashtra will continue to benefit from reservation in promotion, as the Bombay high court last week upheld the validity of the state policy.
“The protection available to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes is required to be extended to other backward classes and categories, if their situation is similar,” said a division bench of Justice Anoop Mohta and Justice Amjad Sayed, while striking down a decision of the Maharashtra Administration Tribunal (MAT).
MAT had, on November 28, 2014, declared the Maharashtra State Public Services Act, 2001, and a May 2004 promotion circular ‘unconstitutional’, as the two extended the benefits of reservation in promotion not only to SC and STs, but also to other backward classes such as Special Backward Classes (SBC), De-notified Tribes (DT) and Nomadic Tribes (NT).
The tribunal said the benefits of reservation in promotion cannot be extended to other backward classes. It felt that this benefit could not even be extended to SCs and STs as there was no quantifiable data showing that the categories had inadequate representation in state services.
The high court reversed the finding. It noted that the tribunal extended its jurisdiction by striking down the legislation. “It is wrong to hold that the reservation for DT, NT and SBC is in violation of constitutional provisions,” said the high court. “As for data regarding the extension of benefits to SC and STs, it is adequate and has been placed on record.”
The high court said the tribunal confused reservation in employment statistics with those of reservation in promotion. MAT concluded that reservation in promotion exceeded the ceiling limit of 50% laid down by the Apex Court, and was therefore void.
The high court noted that the Maharashtra government has provided for 52 % reservation in favour of backward classes for employment purposes. However, when it comes to reservation in promotions, the total reservations come to only 33 %. Therefore, the total reservation in promotion does not exceed the ceiling of 50 %, as laid down by the Supreme Court.