Attorney General Goolam E Vahanvati has told the government that comprehensive Constitutional amendments providing for reservation in promotions in government jobs for SC and ST employees can be brought in.
In his legal opinion on the contentious issue of providing reservation in promotions,as demanded by the Bahujan Samaj Party,Vahanvati is learnt to have said that any such amendments must fulfill the criteria laid down by the Supreme Court in M Nagaraj versus Union of India case.
He has categorically told the government that any amendment passed by Parliament would in all likelihood be scrutinised by the Supreme Court and hence the amendments should be in line with law as laid down in the Nagaraj judgment.
In the judgment,a five-Judge SC Bench headed by then CJI Y K Sabharwal had ruled that before making provision for reservation,the government should make out a case on the basis of existing compelling reasons,namely backwardness,inadequacy of representation and overall administrative efficiency. The judgment was authored by current CJI S H Kapadia.
The Ministry of Personnel had sought Vahanvatis opinion on whether the government could bring in a legislation to amend the Constitution to provide for reservation in promotions for SC and ST employees.
The AGs opinion is silent on whether OBC employees could also be given the benefit of reservation in promotions as demanded by the Samajwadi Party at the all-party meeting on August 21.
In his opinion,Vahanvati has said that as per the Nagaraj judgment,the state,while not bound to make reservation in promotions,is not barred to exercise its discretion and make such a provision. To do so,he says,the government would have to fulfill the court-laid criteria of a quantifiable data showing backwardness of the class and inadequacy of representation of that class in public employment in addition to compliance of Article 335.
He is also learnt to have suggested amendments to Article 16,among others,to provide for reservation in promotions.