Quota in promotions: Five-judge bench to decide whether 2006 order needs to be revisited

In 2006, a five-judge Constitution Bench had ruled that the state was not bound to provide reservation for SCs/STs in promotions.

Written by ANANTHAKRISHNAN G | New Delhi | Updated: November 16, 2017 7:25 am
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A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court will examine whether its 2006 judgment on the reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in promotions needs to be revisited.

The matter was referred to the Constitution Bench Wednesday by a three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan. The Constitution Bench has to decide on the limited issue whether the order in M Nagaraj vs Union of India needs to be looked at afresh. The Constitution Bench will not go into the merit of the matter.

In 2006, a five-judge Constitution Bench had ruled that the state was not bound to provide reservation for SCs/STs in promotions. But in case any state wished to make such a provision, it was required to collect quantifiable data showing backwardness of the class as well as its inadequate representation in public employment. Additionally, the state was required to ensure that reservation does not breach the 50 per cent ceiling, adversely affect the creamy layer or extend it indefinitely.

Acting on a 2015 petition filed by the Tripura government which challenged an order of the Tripura High Court, a two-judge bench of Justices Kurian Joseph and R Banumathi referred the matter Tuesday to a Constitution Bench.
“Having regard to the questions involved in this case, we are of the opinion that this is a case to be heard by a bench as per the constitutional mandate under Article 145(3) of the Constitution of India. Ordered accordingly. Place the files before the Honourable Chief Justice of India immediately,” the two-judge bench said.

A petition before the High Court had challenged certain provisions of The Tripura Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Reservation of vacancies in services and posts) Act, 1991, saying that under these provisions, the state had granted reservation in violation of rules laid down in M Nagaraj vs Union of India case.

The reference made by the bench of Justices Joseph and Banumathi was taken up by a three-judge bench headed by CJI Misra Wednesday. “Can a two-judge judge bench directly refer a matter to our Constitution Bench,” the CJI asked, adding that a Constitution Bench will first decode if the matter needs to be reconsidered at all.

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