Patna, May 4: Patna High Court on Monday quashed the state government's decision to provide reservation benefits to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in promotions.
Stating that the state government did not take into consideration the overall backwardness of the castes, the single bench of Justice Vijayendra Nath said the decision (quota to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes [SC/STs] in promotion) was unconstitututional.
The state government had issued a notification in August 2012, ensuring reservation in promotion for SC/ST employees in government services. The decision was taken at a cabinet meeting presided over by chief minister Nitish Kumar.
Upholding a petition filed by an aggrieved general category employee Sushil Kumar Singh and others challenging the reservation in promotions, the high court said the state failed to contemplate on the impact of the reservation policy in promotion on the overall administrative efficiency.
The principal additional advocate-general, Lalit Kishore, said: "We will study the judgment first. Then we will adopt appropriate legal recourse."
The petitioner's lawyer, Vindhyachal Singh, referred to the M. Nagaraj vs Union of India (October 2006) case and said the state must demonstrate backwardness, inadequacy of representation and maintenance of efficiency before providing reservation in promotions, which the Bihar government failed to do.
The Supreme Court had held in the M. Nagaraj, Indra Sawhney and various other cases that reservation in promotions could be provided only if there was enough data and evidence to justify the need.
The high court on Monday was of the view that reservation should not be provided at the cost of efficiency of the administration as the same amounts to erosion of public interest.
The single bench also held that the reservation benefits to SCs and STs in promotions to higher posts in government services was done without enough data. No proper survey was conducted either.
"The state failed to furnish sufficient valid data to justify the move to promote employees on caste basis. The conditions have not been satisfied," the bench observed.
While quashing the state government's notification to provide reservation benefits to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in promotions, the bench on Monday took into account the applicability of "ceiling limit" and "creamy layer" before providing reservation to SCs and STs in promotions as the Supreme Court had clearly stated earlier in its judgment that both these factors would apply while providing reservation in promotions.
The state cabinet on August 17, 2012, had given its nod to continue reservation in promotions of SC/ST government employees to protect their interests. The decision of the government will benefit them (government employees), cabinet secretariat department's then principal secretary Ravikant had said in the post-cabinet briefing.
Even opposition parties and then deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi had favoured the continuation of the reservation policy. Modi had said that SC/ST people in government services should have reservation facilities in promotion during their service period, as it would serve to protect their interests.