Review plea likely on Supreme Court job quota order for SC/ST/OBC
The government is likely to move the Supreme Court for a review of its recent judgment that said states were not bound to provide reservation in jobs and there was no fundamental right that guaranteed quotas in promotions.
Sources said the Prime Minister’s Office was examining all options amid outrage among people from the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes over the February 7 ruling.
The judgment, in a case related to Uttarakhand, had also led to protests in Parliament.
The PMO, the sources said, has sought feedback from ministries dealing with reservation in the backdrop of these protests and demands from ministers and leaders from across parties for constitutional protection for quota provisions.
The government sources also suggested that the Centre might file a review plea in the top court.
Article 16 (4) of the Constitution provides for reservation for socially and educationally backward classes in jobs. The 77th constitutional amendment passed in 1997 introduced a subsection — 16 (4) (a) — that provided for reservation in promotions for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes on the ground that they were not adequately represented in public services.
The department of personnel and training (DoPT) has already filed a review petition related to another but similar judgment in 2018 from the top court in the Jarnail Singh & Others versus Lachhmi Narain Gupta & Others case.
According to the DoPT, the judgment in that review petition would take care of the concerns raised after the court’s latest ruling earlier this month.
In the Jarnail Singh case, the top court had ruled that the government need not collect quantifiable data to establish the inadequate representation of SCs and STs in government jobs.
The DoPT had filed a review plea about a year ago and requested a quick hearing sometime back.
Sources in the social justice and empowerment ministry, however, said the review petition in the Jarnail Singh case might not address the concerns raised by the February 7 judgment.
In its February ruling, a division bench of the top court had ruled that provisions for reservation in jobs and promotions were merely enabling measures but not a right of individuals.
The ruling came in a case related to Uttarakhand, where the state government had in 2012 decided not to reserve posts for SCs and STs.
The social justice and empowerment ministry said the judgment had raised questions over the future of reservation in the country and was fundamentally wrong.
“This judgment has raised questions over the fate of the reservation policy. The judgment has come in the case of Uttarakhand. But other states can cite it to deny reservation in jobs. The review petition in the Jarnail Singh case may not adequately address the concerns raised by this judgment,” a ministry official said.
The Bhim Army and several SC/ST organisations have called a Bharat Bandh on Sunday to demand constitutional protection for the provisions that deal with reservation.
Food minister Ram Vilas Paswan has demanded that the provisions related to reservation be included in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution to bypass judicial scrutiny.
Junior social justice minister Ramdas Athawale has demanded that a bill be brought in to nullify the top court’s latest order.