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Constitution bench will revisit verdict on SC/ST quota in government jobs

Government told the Supreme Court that the matter required urgent consideration as lakhs of jobs in the Railways and services were stuck due to confusion over various judicial pronouncements.

india Updated: Jul 11, 2018 23:34 IST
New Delhi
SC/ST quota in government jobs,SC/ST quota,Schedules Castes
The M Nagaraj verdict of 2006 had held that the ‘creamy layer’ concept cannot be applied to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes for promotions in government jobs.(AFP File Photo)

The Supreme Court on Wednesday declined to pass an interim order on the issue of reservations in promotions for Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) employees in government jobs, and said a seven-judge bench will be set up to re-examine its 2006 verdict.

The matter affects hundreds of thousands of people employed by the Railways and other services and the Centre contended that promotions were stuck due to confusion over the issue.

Attorney general KK Venugopal pointed out to a bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra that the top court’s 2006 verdict in the M Nagaraj case that held reservations in promotion can be allowed if only there is quantifiable data to back it, was referred to a larger bench and asked for an early hearing.

The bench said it will take up the matter next month and set an August 3 date for hearing.

“A seven-judge bench needs to be constituted. Since a Constitution bench is already seized of various matters, the issue can only be taken up in the first week of August,” the CJI said.

The Supreme Court had in November 2017 said that a Constitution bench would see if the Nagaraj case required re-examination. The Nagaraj judgement had said the concept of “creamy layer” cannot be applied while giving reservations to members of the SC/ST communities as is done in the case of OBCs (other backward classes).

It also prescribed certain preconditions for extending the benefit of reservation in promotions to SC/ST employees.‘Creamy layer’ is term used to describe better-off individuals among OBCs who are ineligible for reservations as per the Mandal Commission provisions.

On June 5, a vacation bench headed by justice AK Goel (now retired) said the Centre could go ahead with reservations in promotion for SC and ST category “in accordance with law, subject to further orders, pending further consideration of the matter”. The court had taken into account the Centre’s submission that the process of promotions had come to a “standstill” due to the orders passed by various high courts s and the apex court had also ordered for “status quo” in a similar matter in 2015.

Senior advocate Anil Mishra said, “There has been a confusion around the issue of reservation in promotions - various high courts have ruled differently on the issue. The position after Nagraj verdict is that reservations in promotion are possible only if the govts have quantifiable data on SC/STs in services. SC needs to step in and resolve the matter either way soon.”

First Published: Jul 11, 2018 20:34 IST