New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday questioned the Centre the rationale and logic in demanding reservation for SC/STs in promotions in government jobs particularly when none of the states had so far collected any data to determine their backwardness and inadequacy of representation.
A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by the Chief Justice Dipak Misra made this observation when the Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal appearing for Centre maintained that there was no need for identification backwardness of SC/ST, as they are perceived to be backward under the constitution. The Bench includes Justices Kurian Joseph, Rohinton Nariman, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Ms. Indu Malhotra.
When the CJI wanted to know whether creamy layer within the SCST could be given quota in promotions, the AG said the question whether the “creamy layer” within the SC, ST community should be extended the benefit of reservation in job promotions should be left to the wisdom of the President who alone has the power under Article 341 and 341 of the constitution to determine them.
The AG pointed out that the two Articles empower the President to determine the castes, race, tribes etc for classification as SC,STs.
While the AG insisted that there should be “proportional representation” for SC/STs, in promotion jobs, Justice Kurian Joseph told the AG that there should be a quantifiable data besides a clear cut bench-mark to determine who among the SC/STs should be considered for promotion.“ Whether the creamy layer should be excluded?, the government must address the issue Justice Kurian Joseph told the AG.
The AG however, said that SC/ STs who have for centuries been subjected to discrimination are entitled to reservation in promotion as part of the affirmative action under Article 16(4)(a). The CJI said the government must clarify as what is the concept of” adequacy” in representation since no quantifiable data has been placed before the court on the inadequacy of representation of SC/STs in promotion posts.
The CJI said, “We want to know precisely what it means by adequacy?” The AG said whether the communities have been adequately represented or not should be left to the discretion of the President and none else.