A day after the Supreme Court ruled that the government “is not debarred from making promotions in accordance with law” till it decides petitions before it, the government said this will not only ensure quotas in promotion for its SC/ST employees but also allow all such employees, whose promotions had been reversed in recent years, to be reinstated to the posts.
Thaawarchand Gehlot, Union Minister for Social Justice & Empowerment, said following consultations with the Ministry of Law and Department of Personnel Training on the implications of the Supreme Court ruling, it is clear that “promotion mein reservation ka raasta khul gaya hai”.
“Even though this is just an interim order, and the matter will be decided by a larger Constitutional Bench, we will immediately implement it so that reservation can be made applicable to promotions also. Also, if any of the promotions granted to SC/ST employees post 1997 were reversed, then they too will get the benefit of this order,” he said, adding that they will have to be reinstated to their erstwhile posts.
He said the ruling will set at rest all allegations, especially in the wake of the order on the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, that the government was trying to end reservation and other safeguards for SC/STs through courts.
On March 20, the Supreme Court, taking serious note of instances of abuse of the Prevention of Atrocities Act for political and personal reasons, laid down stringent safeguards including provision for anticipatory bail and vetting of a complaint to determine if a case was made out before registration of an FIR under the Act. This led to protests and allegations about dilution of the law and the government approached the court to reconsider.
Gehlot said there are no immediate plans to bring in a Bill on the matter in the monsoon session of Parliament. “This (dilution allegation) is a misconception which led to a Bharat Bandh on April 2. Now we are hopeful that even in the Atrocities Act matter, the court will give a favourable order. We will wait until their order is out and only then bring in an ordinance if the ruling is not in our favour,” he said.
Last week, Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan met BJP chief Amit Shah and sought an assurance on the ordinance as well as on the promotion matter. Paswan told The Indian Express that the “historic step” of the Supreme Court in its interim order signals a bright future for lakhs of SC/ST employees.
“The Law Ministry will look into the issue of all those cases where promotions given to SC/ST employees were reversed. They were eligible for promotions right from the beginning, right from the day Article 16 (4A) came into the Constitution. Hence, they should get it. They will get it,” Paswan said.