Published On: Sun, Feb 12th, 2017

Quota law for promotion invalid, says Supreme Court

The court said it was not for a person challenging such a policy but for the State to prove that the policy was adopted following the due process and that the overall efficiency was not going to be hampered.

Media during the hearing on the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) act at Supreme court in New Delhi on Oct 16th 2015. Express photo by Ravi Kanojia

Media during the hearing on the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) act at Supreme court in New Delhi on Oct 16th 2015.

 MAINTAINING THAT the State does not have unbridled powers to provide promotion in reservation to the backward classes, the Supreme Court on Thursday held that an exercise to determine inadequacy of representation, backwardness and overall efficiency is “a must” before granting promotion to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes employees.

A bench of Justices Adarsh K Goel and Uday U Lalit declared the Karnataka Determination of Seniority of the Government Servants Promoted on the Basis of Reservation (To the Posts in the Civil Services of the State) Act invalid to the extent it accorded consequential seniority to SC and ST employees in public offices without carrying out the requisite exercise.

Relying upon the Constitution Bench judgment in M Nagaraj’s case of 2006, the court held that the State “must” demonstrate backwardness, inadequacy of representation and maintenance of efficiency before providing reservation in promotions under Article 16(4).

“Mere fact that there is no proportionate representation in promotional posts for the population of SCs and STs is not by itself enough to grant consequential seniority to promotees, who are otherwise junior, and thereby denying seniority to those who are given promotion later on account of reservation policy,” it noted.

 The court said it was not for a person challenging such a policy but for the State to prove that the policy was adopted following the due process and that the overall efficiency was not going to be hampered.“It is for the State to place material on record that there was compelling necessity for exercise of such power and decision of the State was based on material including the study that overall efficiency is not compromised,” said the bench.

It rejected an argument by the Karnataka government that seniority was not a fundamental right. The court said if the State has not conducted the requisite exercise under Article 16(4A), the judicially evolved ‘catch up’ rule will fully apply to control the extent of reservation. The ‘catch up’ rule was explained in the Nagaraj judgment, holding that if a senior general candidate was promoted after SC and ST candidates, he would regain his seniority on promotion in relation to the juniors who had been promoted against reserved vacancies.

While the High Court had said that there was nothing illegal about the Act and that the petitioners had failed to show it would affect the overall efficiency, the apex court said that neither the judicially laid down exercise had been carried out nor was it ensured that general candidates are fairly treated.

Source:- Indian Express

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