SC: Won’t reopen settled issues on promotion quota

3 days ago 18
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NEW DELHI: Dealing with a bunch of petitions raising the contentious issue of reservation in promotion, the Supreme Court on Tuesday said it would not reopen norms settled in its earlier judgments that had ordered exclusion of the creamy layer, quantifiable data on adequacy of representation of backward classes in government posts and safeguarding administrative efficiency.
This clarification came repeatedly from a bench of Justices L N Rao, Saniv Khanna and B R Gavai while taking up 132 petitions, which challenged various state legislations attempting to brush aside the mandate of three constitutional bench judgments - Indra Sawhney (which in 1992 stipulated exclusion of the creamy layer to OBCs and capped quota at 50%), M Nagaraj (which in 2006 called for quantifiable data to justify the extent of reservation in promotion with a mandate that quota must not dilute administrative efficiency) and Jarnail Singh (which in 2018 ruled out reconsideration of Nagraj and extended creamy layer exclusion for SC/ST employees in promotion).
In 2019, in Pavitra-II judgment, the SC had diluted the settled concepts. In Pavitra-I judgment, the SC had quashed a Karnataka law providing consequential seniority along with reservations in promotions as unconstitutional on the ground of absence of quantifiable data criteria, which was held mandatory by both Nagaraj and Jarnail Singh judgments.
However, in Pavitra-II, the SC diluted the consistently insisted upon norm of quantifiable data on adequacy of representation by allowing the criteria to be fulfilled merely by a state saying that in its opinion there was inadequate representation to continue with reservation in promotion.
In the Nagaraj case, the SC had ruled that "the state is not bound to make reservation for SC/ST in matters of promotions. However, if they wish to exercise their discretion and make such provision, the state has to collect quantifiable data showing backwardness of the class and inadequacy of representation of that class in public employment in addition to compliance of Article 335 (administrative efficiency)".
At the outset, Justice Rao-led bench said, "We are making it very clear that we are not going to reopen Nagaraj, Jarnail Singh or any other judgment. Because the idea is to decide these petitions in accordance with the law already laid down by this court. We will proceed to hear the petitions on this basis."
Attorney General K K Venugopal said he fully agreed with the court and that nearly all these issues are covered by the judgments of the SC, including the recent Pavitra case judgment. "I will give a total background of reservation from its inception until the last judgment and the court will find that nearly every issue is already covered. Only Tripura has a peculiar case. Otherwise, there is no scope for reopening any of the judgments," he said.
The bench is hearing a clutch of petitions challenging 11 judgments of various HCs, which had either quashed or upheld state legislations on quota in promotion in reservation for being allegedly in contravention of the SC judgments
The bench said the AG would give a background note on the issues raised in these petitions and how they were covered by various judgments.
"Let the AG flag the issues and tell us about the judgments. But we are very clear that we are not going to permit any argument for reopening of cases or allow anyone to argue that the law laid down right from Indra Sawhney till Pavitra is wrong. Very scope of these petitions is to apply the law laid down by this court with the facts emerging from each state. We will proceed only on that basis."

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