In a significant verdict, the Supreme Court today held that a member of an SC/ST community from one state cannot claim the benefit of reservation in government jobs or admission in another state, if his or her caste is not notified there. A five-judge constitution bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi also held that in Delhi, the central reservation policy applicable in jobs of the central government regarding Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST), would be applicable.
It unanimously held that a person belonging to SCs or STs in one state cannot be deemed to be a SC or ST in other states where he has migrated for the purpose of employment or education, saying that such persons would be eating away the quota meant for the native SCs or STs.
The verdict came on as many as eight petitions that had raised the issue whether an SC/ST community member in one state can seek reservation in another state where his caste is not notified as SC/ST. The bench was also seized of the question whether SC/ST people of another state can seek quota benefits for government jobs in Delhi.
The bench, which also comprised Justices N V Ramana, R Banumathi, M M Shantanagoudar and Justice S A Nazeer, said the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes specified in relation to a state or a union territory does not necessarily carry the same status in another state or union territory.
“A person notified as Scheduled Caste in state A cannot claim the same status in another state on the basis that he is declared as Scheduled Caste in state A,” it said.
The bench said the consideration for specifying a particular caste or tribe or class for inclusion in the list of SCs, STs or Backward Classes in any state depends on the nature and extent of the disadvantages and social hardships suffered by the concerned members of the class in that state.
“These may be absent in another State to which the persons belonging to some other State may migrate,” the bench said.
The top court accorded primacy to the list of SC/ST castes prepared by the President and said nobody, including the Court, can order addition or deletion of any caste into that list.
“The upshot of the discussion would lead us to the conclusion that the presidential orders issued under Article 341 in regard to scheduled castes and under Article 342 in regard to scheduled tribes cannot be varied or altered by any authority including the court,” it said. The court also gave another perspective to the issue and said, “If a member of a scheduled caste/ scheduled tribe of Andhra Pradesh who had migrated to Maharashtra is to be given the benefit of reservation, it will amount to depriving a member of a Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe of Maharashtra by reducing the reservation earmarked for them.”
The bench with a majority of 4:1 held that so far as Delhi is concerned, the central reservation policy, applicable in jobs of the central government regarding SC/ST, would be applicable here also.
Justice Banumathi, however, disagreed with the majority view on this aspect of applicability of central reservation policy on SC/ST in national capital territory of Delhi. She said the services under the Union Territories, though these are central government services, were those under the respective Union Territories and not under the direct control of Union of India.