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Priority Supreme Court hearing in SC/ST promotions case on government plea

The case is at the heart of the issue of reservation in promotions. The expeditious hearings will bring relief to the government when Parliament reconvenes on March 2. The Centre has been under attack from the Opposition which has demanded clarity on the issue of reservation in promotions for SCs and STs.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Feb 18, 2020, 07.23 AM IST
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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court will expeditiously hear the Jarnail Singh vs Lachhmi Narain Gupta case on the question of whether the concept of ‘creamy layer’ should apply to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes job promotions following a request from the Union government.

The case is at the heart of the issue of reservation in promotions. The expeditious hearings will bring relief to the government when Parliament reconvenes on March 2. The Centre has been under attack from the Opposition which has demanded clarity on the issue of reservation in promotions for SCs and STs.

Social justice and empowerment secretary R Subrahmanyam told ET, “There are several issues that would be examined by the Supreme Court in the Jarnail Singh case. The case will have a direct bearing on the recent verdict in Uttarakhand government case, where the court ruled that states were not bound to give reservation to SCs/STs in promotions. We had sought expeditious hearings from the Supreme Court as issues related to the new verdict had to be addressed and the request has been granted.” The hearings would take place through February.

In case the issue is raised when Parliament reconvenes, the government could cite the fact that the subject was sub judice. At the same time, the law ministry is exploring possibilities of filing a review petition in the Uttarakhand case or enacting a constitutional amendment.

In September 2018, the SC had taken the view in the Jarnail Singh case that socially, educationally and economically advanced ‘cream’ of SC/ ST communities should be excluded from the benefits of reservation in promotions in government services. With this, the Supreme Court delinked the need for quantifiable data in giving reservation and introduced the ‘creamy layer’ concept for SC and STs just as in the case of OBCs. In December 2019, the Modi government requested that the verdict be reviewed and the case be heard by a sevenmember Constitution Bench. The government sought a review as it felt that SCs/STs were still backward and the verdict would deprive them of quota in promotions.

Even as the matter was yet to be settled came the Uttarakhand verdict and the social justice and empowerment ministry said that it had ‘struck at the very foundation of the concept of reservation’.

Minister Thaawar Chand Gehlot told ET, “The matter is under consideration at the highest levels within the government. We will take a call on it soon.”

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