SC/ST quota in job promotions: SC reserves order on pleas to reconsider verdict

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New Delhi:

The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its verdict on a batch of petitions seeking that a seven-judge bench reviews its 2006 verdict which had put conditions for granting quota benefits for job promotions to SC/ST employees.

A five-judge constitution bench, in its 2006 verdict in M Nagraj case, had said that the states are bound to provide quantifiable data on the backwardness of Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST), the facts about their inadequate representation in government jobs and the overall administrative efficiency before providing quota in promotions to those belonging to these communities.

The Centre and various state governments have also sought reconsideration of this verdict on various grounds, including that the members of the SC/ST communities are presumed to be backward and considering their stigma of caste, they should be given reservation even in job promotions.

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The Centre has alleged that the Nagraj verdict had put unnecessary conditions in granting quota benefits to the SC/ST employees and sought its reconsideration by a larger bench.

A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra reserved its verdict after hearing various stakeholders, including the Centre, on the matter.

Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, strongly argued in favour of granting quota to SC/ST employees, saying there was a presumption of backwardness in their favour.

He said the SC/ST communities have been facing caste-based discrimination for long and the stigma of caste is attached to them despite the fact that some of them have come up.

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At the hearing yesterday, senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, who represents those opposing quotas in promotions, had told the bench that earlier there was presumption of backwardness with regard to scheduled caste and scheduled tribe communities.

There should not be quota in promotions for higher services as the presumption of backwardness of SC and ST employees “vanishes” once they join government service, he had claimed.

He had also said the quota in promotions for SC/ST may be continued for class-IV and class-III services, but should not be allowed for higher services.

Earlier, the top court had questioned the logic behind granting quota in promotions in government jobs to the kith and kin of affluent persons among the SC and ST communities who have been holding high official positions.

It had asked why the ‘creamy layer’ principle, used to exclude the affluent among other backward classes (OBCs) from enjoying the fruits of reservation, cannot be made applicable to deny quota benefits in promotion to those affluent among the SCs and STs.

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