In its reply to the Supreme Court on the removal of creamy layer concept from promotion in government jobs, the Centre on Thursday stated that once backwardness is presumed and benefits are given, it cannot be taken back. Attorney General K K Venugopal told the bench headed by CJI Dipak Misra that only the President and the Parliament, not the judiciary, have the power to exclude a certain class of SC/ST from such benefits.
Venugopal said that though some people from the SC/ST community have risen from poverty, the stigma of caste and backwardness is still attached to them. Therefore, those affluent among the community cannot be denied benefits of quota in promotions in government jobs, PTI quoted him telling the bench which also comprises Justice Kurian Joseph, Justice R F Nariman, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Indu Malhotra.
“They have to marry from their own caste. Even a well-off person of SC/ST community cannot marry from a higher caste. The fact that some persons have become affluent does not take away the imprint of caste and backwardness,” PTI quoted Venugpal as saying.
The five-judge bench is examining whether its 2006 verdict in the M Nagaraj Vs Union of India judgement, which nullified the creamy layer concept in the promotion of SC/STs in government jobs, requires reconsideration.
The Nagaraj verdict said that if the state wanted to provide reservation in promotion for SC/STs, it must first collect quantifiable data showing backwardness of the class and inadequacy of representation of that class in public employment. The state will also have to take into account the likely impact on overall administrative efficiency.
On August 3, the apex court had asked the Centre as to why states have not come forward with any quantifiable data to decide the inadequacy of representation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in government services even 12 years after its verdict on the ‘creamy layer’.
Calling the Nagaraj judgement as non-implementable, Venugopal had told the bench that Article 16(4)(a) which deals with reservation and enables the state to make provision for reservation in promotions for SC/STs, was a call to affirmative action.
With inputs from PTI