SUBSTANTIVE EQUALITY: ON SC/ST GOVERNMENT STAFF
13, May 2019
Prelims level : Governance Mains level : GS-II Governance, Constitution, Social Justice and IR
why in news:
- The Supreme Court on Friday upheld the validity of a new Karnataka law granting reservation in promotions to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (SC/ST) employees.
Background: / Various judgements related to SC/ST reservations in promotion:
Indhira Sawhney Case (1992):
- In Indira Sawhney case, where it was held that once SCs and STs were part of the Presidential List under Articles 341 and 342 of the Constitution, and there was no need to prove backwardness.
- Hence, SC ruled that States need not collect quantifiable data on the backwardness of SC/ST for giving quota in job promotion to SC/ST employees.
- It had not made any changes to application of ‘creamy layer’ principle in reservation in promotion of SC/STs.
2. Nagaraj Case (2006):
- The Supreme Court had held that the state was not bound to provide reservation in promotions to SCs/STs.
- But in case any state wished to make such a provision, it was required to –
- Collect quantifiable data on backwardness of the
- Prove its inadequate representation in public
- Show no compromise on efficiency of
- Additionally, the state was also required to ensure that the reservation does not breach the 50% ceiling.
- The ruling also said that the ‘creamy layer’ concept applies to SCs and STs for promotions in government jobs.
3. Jarnail Singh Case (2018):
- The court set aside the requirement to collect quantifiable data that was stipulated by its 2006 verdict in M. Nagaraj v. Union of India as it ignored the reasoning of a nine-judge bench in Indra Sawhney (1992) that any discussion on creamy layer “has no relevance” in the context of SC/STs.
- The court has taken more than a decade to correct an anomaly in the Nagaraj case which brought in a creamy layer filter for promotions for SC/ST employees. This resulted in thousands of employees being denied their due promotions.
- The court said special measures need to be adopted for considering the claims of SCs and STs in order to bring them to a level playing field. Centuries of discrimination and prejudice suffered by the SCs and STs in a feudal, caste-oriented societal structure poses real barriers of access to opportunity, it pointed out.