Wednesday, September 26, 2018

SC/ST job promotions: No need to refer Nagaraj judgment to larger bench, rules Supreme Court

A five-judge bench of the apex court, also comprising Justices Kurian Joseph, R F Nariman, S K Kaul, and Indu Malhotra, in August reserved its verdict. 
The Supreme Court Wednesday said its 2006 decision in the M Nagaraj case on the reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in job promotions does not require reconsideration by a larger bench. However, the apex court reversed the finding in Nagaraj judgment that stated states required to collect quantifiable data to prove backwardness, saying it was contrary to the decision in Indira Sawhney case.
The apex court also turned down the Centre’s plea that overall population of SC/ST be considered for granting quota for them. “States need not collect quantifiable data on the backwardness of SC/ST for giving quota in job promotion to SC/ST employees,” the five-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, said.
The bench of the apex court, also comprising Justices Kurian Joseph, R F Nariman, S K Kaul, and Indu Malhotra, in August reserved its verdict on petitions seeking a seven-bench examination of its judgment in the M Nagaraj case that had put conditions for granting quota benefits for job promotions to SC/ST (Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe) employees working in the public sector.
In the Nagaraj verdict, the Supreme Court had held that the state was not bound to provide reservation in promotions to SCs/STs. But in case any state wished to make such a provision, it was required to collect quantifiable data showing backwardness of the class as well as its inadequate representation in public employment, the SC had said.
Additionally, the state was also required to ensure that the reservation does not breach the 50 per cent ceiling. The ruling also said that the ‘creamy layer’ concept cannot be applied to SCs and STs for promotions in government jobs.
The Centre and various state governments had sought reconsideration of the 12-year-old verdict on various grounds, including that the members of the SC/ST communities were presumed to be backward and considering the stigma attached to their caste, they should be given reservation even in job promotions.
Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, had sought reconsideration of the Nagaraj judgment, saying it was not implementable. He had cited instances of Dalits grooms not being allowed to ride horses and untouchability to make his point.
Senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, opposing any review of the Nagaraj verdict, said the situation had changed from the time the Constitution was framed. The social stigma, he said, had disappeared to a large extent. To make his point, he said Dalits had become President and Chief Justice in the country.
Before reserving its verdict, the Supreme Court underlined the need for “quantifiable data” to determine the backwardness of SC and ST for the purpose of providing reservation in promotions to members of these communities. “Quantifiable data, in our view, as a basis is unavoidable,” Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said. The CJI noted that no state had prepared the “quantifiable data” despite such a direction in the Nagaraj case.

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