Punjab to challenge HC order quashing quota in promotion to SCs in apex court
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Punjab to challenge HC order quashing quota in promotion to SCs in apex court

State to file SLP early next week after Centre’s directive to states to execute SC order; stay on order can lead to bureaucratic reshuffle

punjab Updated: Jun 17, 2018 10:58 IST
Sukhdeep Kaur
Sukhdeep Kaur
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Punjab,Supreme Court,Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan
(Representative Image)

The recent judgment of the Supreme Court allowing the Centre to resume quotas in promotions for the Scheduled Caste (SCs) employees has forced the Punjab government to change its stance on the issue. Punjab has highest percentage of Dalit population in the country.

Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan had on Wednesday said following the SC ruling, the Centre has decided to issue direction to all states to follow reservation for SC/STs in promotions in government jobs. A circular is being issued by the department of personnel to all states in this regard.

In its plea to the apex court, the Centre said the entire process of promotion has come to a standstill due to orders passed by Punjab and Haryana, Delhi and Mumbai high courts and the apex court.

In February this year, the Punjab and Haryana high court had struck down the provisions in a law enacted by the Punjab government which gave reservation in promotion to SC employees. It held the sections under Punjab Scheduled Caste and Backward Classes (Reservation in Services) Act, 2006, as ultra vires owing to “lack of quantifiable data showing backwardness of the class and inadequacy or representation of that class in public employment” as mandated by the Supreme Court in its 2016 order.

Though the state government had tried to collate the data from 47 departments, some did not provide the information pertaining to corporations and universities under them. As a result, the data was “incomplete and faulty”, the state had told the HC. The state government did not challenge the HC order in absence of data. The department of welfare of scheduled castes and backward classes has started the exercise to collect data on SCs employees again through a circular issued to all departments in April-end.

However, in wake of the new SC ruling, Punjab has decided to file a special leave petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court to obtain a stay against the HC ruling. Punjab advocate general Atul Nanda confirmed the development saying the SLP would be filed early next week. A stay from the Supreme Court will ensure the SC employees do not suffer in the interregnum. The HC order would have affected those promoted on the basis of state’s 2006 reservation policy in the past too. A stay on order can also result in a bureaucratic reshuffle on caste lines.

The “failure” of the government to collate data or challenge the HC order had sparked a political controversy too. Punjab technical education minister Charanjit Singh Channi, who hails from the SC community, had accused his own government of “not defending” the case well in the HC.

The provocation for Channi’s outburst was no representation to SCs in the second list of law officers engaged by the state. Citing the HC order quashing reservation in promotion to the SCs, the minister had argued that Dalit law officers were needed to defend the rights of the community.

Other than challenging the HC judgment, the state had the option to amend its 2006 law or bring in a new law till the data was collected. A much-debated 2017 bill of Karnataka, another Congress-ruled state, providing reservation in promotions for SC/ST employees also got President Ram Nath Kovind’s assent on Friday after the Karnataka governor had declined to give nod to the Bill and sent it to the President.

First Published: Jun 17, 2018 10:49 IST