FPJ Legal: Bombay HC refuses to stay govt resolution scrapping 33% reservations in promotion of public servants

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court bench of Justices Ramesh Dhanuka and Madhav Jamdar on Tuesday refused to stay a government resolution (GR) issued on May 7, by which the state scrapped reservation of 33% in promotions for public servants. The bench, however, the promotions if made under this GR would be subject to the court's final orders.

The bench was dealing with clutch of petitions pertaining to the May 7 government resolution of the state. As per the new GR, the state decided to de-reserve the posts earlier reserved for the Scheduled Caste (SC) Scheduled Tribe (ST), Nomadic Tribe (NT), Special Backward Class (SBC) etc. The GR says instead of considering reservations seniority would be the factor to be considered.

Appearing for one of the intervenors challenging the May 7 GR, senior counsel Indira Jaisingh said the state's decision has infringed the rights of reserved category persons. "These reservations of 33 per cent were there ever since 1974 but now in a single stroke they have de-reserve all the seats," Jaisingh submitted.

"In fact, Maharashtra is the only state in this country to de-reserve posts reserved for the SC ST," she submitted. Jaisingh further said that the move of the state is galloping to fill up all the posts meant for reserved categories.

"There is no reasoning or justification or authority of law followed by the state in this GR. In fact, this GR is against the decision of the Supreme Court which has clearly directed states to promote from reserved to reserved and unreserved to unreserved categories," Jaisingh argued.

The senior advocate further pointed out that the state itself had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court in a similar matter stating it would continue with the reserve to reserve promotion directive.

"I don't know what changed suddenly. Why this summersault? Isn't it arbitrary?" Jaisingh argued. Having heard the submissions the bench sought to know from senior counsel Mihir Desai, appearing for the state, if the government proposes to make promotions in pursuance to this new GR.

Desai responded in affirmative, to which, Jaisingh said, "The state had made all preparations much before this GR. I think the state is just confused." She accordingly urged the judges to stay the operation of the GR.

However, the bench considered that the matter needs to be heard exhaustively since there are several intervenors in the matter. Accordingly, the bench while adjourning the matter for a hearing till mid-June said, "We make it clear any promotions made by the state pursuant to the impugned GR, shall be subjective to our orders."

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