Centre, states move SC for clarity on quota in promotion

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The central government and several state governments on Tuesday urged the Supreme Court to clear the air over reservations in promotion, blaming multiple rulings by the High Courts for creating confusion on the issue.

A special bench, led by Justice L Nageswara Rao, said that it would hear the issue at length on October 5. The bench also comprised Justices Sanjiv Khanna and BR Gavai.

The top court though put in several caveats to a hearing –– it will not reopen the issue of 50% cap on reservations or earlier rulings clarifying that the concept of creamy layer applied even to SCs and STs.

The top court had earlier also held that there was no need for data on backwardness to give SCs and STs reservations in promotions. But since then, at least three high courts have ruled on the issue. Two high courts have said that reservations can continue in promotions for the time being while one has ordered status quo on the issue.

This, the Attorney General, had caused a situation in which the government was facing contempt for going ahead and promoting some government employees on the basis of seniority while thousands of others cannot be promoted for lack of clarity on the issue.

Several counsels in the case urged the court to clarify the criterion that would be used to decide the adequacy of representation of different classes in government jobs. Though the court said that no quantifiable data was required for reservations for SCs and STs in promotions, state governments are supposed to arrive at a finding that they were not adequately represented in government jobs to do so.

That requires an objective assessment on the adequacy of their representation by state governments based on certain criteria. Some states have since then tried to formulate criteria on the basis of which this exercise can be carried on but with little effect.

Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan said Maharashtra had set up a committee to help it find ways to move ahead and continue reservations in promotion. Senior advocate PS Patwalia, who appeared for Bihar, said 60% of such posts were lying vacant in the state.

The bench eventually directed the states to submit details about the peculiar problems faced by them in granting reservations in promotion so that it could proceed in the case. Though the top court has given many rulings on reservations the policies of the government get stuck at the implementation stage prompting it to go back to court again.

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