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Why quota in promotions for relatives of affluent SC/ST staff, asks SC

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New Delhi : The Supreme Court on Thursday 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.

A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Misra posed the query as to why the ‘creamy layer’ principle, used to exclude affluent other backward classes (OBCs) people from enjoying the fruits of reservation, cannot be made applicable to deny quota benefits in promotion to those affluent among the Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST).

“Reservation at the entry level. No problem. Suppose, ‘X’ by virtue of the reservation becomes the Chief Secretary of a state. Now, will it be logical to treat his or her family members as backward to grant reservation in promotion which would provide accelerated seniority,” the bench, which also comprised Justices Kurian Joseph, R F Nariman, S K Kaul and Indu Malhotra, said, reports PTI.


During the day-long hearing, a battery of lawyers led by Attorney General K K Venugopal, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, senior advocates Indira Jaising, Shyam Divan, Dinesh Dwivedi and P S Patwalia, vehemently supported quota in promotion for the SC/ST communities and sought that the five-judge bench judgement of 2006 in the M Nagaraj case should be reconsidered by a larger bench.

The 2006 verdict had said that the states are bound to provide quantifiable data on the backwardness of SC/ST communities, the fact about their inadequate representation in government jobs and the overall administrative efficiency before providing quota in promotion to those belonging to these communities.

Venugopal and other lawyers alleged that the verdict had virtually stopped the promotion of SC and ST employees.

However, senior lawyer and former Law Minister Shanti Bhushan and senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan opposed the quota in promotions saying it violated the right to equality and equal opportunities in public employment, which was also a part of the basic structure of the Constitution.

“Once you are a Class-I officer, you cease to belong from the backward class… Reservation in promotion for IAS officers will be in teeth of the right to equality which is also part of the basic structure of Constitution,” Shanti Bhsuhan said, adding that “political parties consider SCs and STs as vote bank”.