New Delhi : The Constitution enables governments to provide for reservation of SC/ST category employees even in promotions but courts cannot direct them to make such a provision, the Supreme Court has ruled.
A bench of justices J Chelameswar and A K Sikri, however, said the aggrieved employees, belonging to SC/ST categories, can themselves seek redressal from the court if they are denied the rightful promotions. “Insofar as making of provisions for reservation in matters of promotion to any class or classes of post is concerned, such a provision can be made in favour of SC/ST category employees if, in the opinion of the State, they are not adequately represented in services under the State.
“Thus, no doubt, power lies with the State to make a provision, but, at the same time, courts cannot issue any mandamus to the State to necessarily make such a provision. It is for the State to act, in a given situation, and to take such an affirmative action,” the bench said. Whenever, there exists such a provision for reservation in the matters of recruitment or promotion, it would bestow an enforceable right in favour of persons belonging to SC/ST category and on failure on the part of authorities to reserve posts in selections or promotions, the employees concerned can move the court to get their rights enforced, it said. The court discussed the clause 4 and 4A of Article 16, which deal with quota in promotions in services also in its verdict and said these are “only the enabling provisions which permit the State to make provision for reservation of these category of persons”. The court’s observations came while deciding a plea of Central Bank of India SC/ST Employees Welfare Association and others which had challenged the decision of the bank not to grant reservation in promotions in all categories. The PSU bank had taken the stand that there was no rule of reservation for promotion in the Class A (Class-I) to the posts/scales having basic salary of more than Rs 5,700. The apex court partly allowed the plea of employees union.
The court, in its 36-page verdict, said, “While setting aside the impugned judgment of the high court to the extent it holds that office memorandum dated 13-8-1997 makes a provision for reservation, it is clarified that at present there is no provision for reservation in promotion by selection only in respect of those posts which carry an ultimate salary of 5,700 per month “Qua appellant banks, that would be in respect of Scale-VII and above.