M A I N   N E W S

SC upholds quota in promotions
Says keep creamy layer out
S S Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, October 19
The Supreme Court today set at rest the controversy over extending reservation to SCs and STs in promotion in government jobs after they had availed it in recruitment, by upholding the validity of all four constitutional Amendments made by the government to provide benefit to them, but said the principle of “creamy layer” would strictly apply in their promotions.

A five-Judge Constitution Bench, headed by Chief Justice Y K Sabharwal, said while providing reservation in promotion to SC and ST employees, the ceiling limit of 50 per cent fixed by the court in the Mandal Commission case on reservation to strike a balance of equality vis-à-vis general category candidates, would not be violated.

The court said the “creamy layer” principle would apply to SC and ST employees in promotions and those covered under it would not get the benefit and nor would be the backlog of vacancies be carried forward for indefinite period to avail the benefit by them, the Bench besides the CJI having Justices K G Balakrishnan, S H Kapadia, C K Thakker and P.K. Balasubramanyan ruled. The court clarified further that the Amendments were confined only to SC and ST persons and did not “obliterate” any constitutional requirement.

The Constitution Bench ruling came on nearly 70 petitions that had flooded the court from various states, challenging the 77th, 81st, 82nd and 85th Amendments effected by successive governments to overcome the Mandal Commission ruling that there would be no reservation in promotions.

While the 77th Amendment removed the impediment of Mandal Commission ruling doing away with the bar on reservation in promotion, the 81st permitted the states to treat the backlog of ST and SC vacancies separately and not count these for applying the 50 per cent ceiling, both at the entry point in the job and in promotion. The 82nd Amendment gave power to the states to relax qualifying marks for SC/ STs in recruitment exams and the 85th Amendment provided consequential seniority to employees of these categories on promotions in backlog vacancies.

The court said for effective implementation of reservation in order to strike a balance of equality, vis-à-vis OBCs and general category employees, the state governments “shall apply” post-based roster with in-built concept of replacement. It clarified that the amendments had made classification between the new vacancies and the backlog vide Article 16(4B) which had to be kept in mind by the state governments.

The court recognised that the amendments had retained the reservation in promotions by keeping in mind various factors and compelling reasons, which included backwardness of SCs and STs and their inadequate representation in government jobs.

But at the same time for maintaining efficiency of administration, the states could not be allowed to carry the backlog vacancies forward for an indefinite period as they had to strike a rationale balance, it ruled.

“We reiterate that the ceiling limit of 50 per cent, the concept of creamy layer and the compelling reasons, namely backwardness, inadequacy of representation and overall administrative efficiency are all constitutional requirements without which the structure of equality of opportunity in Article 16 would collapse,” the Bench ruled.



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