Constitution Bench quashes Central Government Notification issued based on per incuriam Judgment; [Read the Judgment]

Constitution Bench quashes Central Government Notification issued based on per incuriam Judgment; [Read the Judgment]

The Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court, which continues its sitting with newly appointed Judge RF Nariman has delivered its first Judgment, quashing the O.M. No. 36012/23/96-Estt.(Res)  dated  22.7.1997 and consequential Notification  dated  30.11.1998 issued by the Central Government  omitting  the  provisions  of  regulation  7(3)  of the Central Secretariat  Service Section Officers' Grade/Stenographers' Grade  'B' (Limited Departmental   Competitive  Examination)  Regulations,  1964.  Regulation 7(3) provides for relaxed qualifying standard in favour of the  Scheduled  Castes and the Scheduled Tribes  candidates  to  make  up  the  deficiency  in  the reserved quota.

The Central Government had  issued the impugned Notification in compliance with the Supreme Court's judgment in  the  case  of  S.  Vinod Kumar vs.  Union of India  (JT  1996(8)  SC  643).  According to the Court, though Article 16(4A) had been  brought   into  Constitution  by the Constitution (Seventy-seventh Amendment)  Act,  1995  with  effect  from 17.6.1995,   S.  Vinod  Kumar   did  not  take   into   consideration   this constitutional provision. The Constitution Bench (CB)  has declared S. Vinod Kumar is a  per incuriam Judgment, which is no longer a good law.

In S. Vinod Kumar v. Union of India  the Court had held that relaxation of qualifying marks and standards of evaluation  in  matters of reservation in promotion was not permissible under Article 16(4) in  view of Article 335 of the  Constitution.   This  was  also  the  view  in  Indra Sawhney. The Constitutional validity  of Article 16(4A) had come up for consideration before the  Constitution  Bench  much earlier  in the case of M. Nagaraj ((2006)8 SCC 212 )

By the Constitution (Eighty-second Amendment) Act, 2000 a proviso  was inserted at the end of Article 335 of the Constitution which reads as  under

: “Provided that nothing in this  article  shall  prevent  in  making  of  any provision in  favour  of  the  members  of  the  Scheduled  Castes  and  the  Scheduled Tribes for relaxation in qualifying marks in  any  examination  or lowering  the  standards  of  evaluation,  for  reservation  in  matters  of promotion to any class or classes of services or posts  in  connection  with the affairs of the Union or of a State.”

This proviso  was  added  following  the  benefit  of  reservation  in promotion conferred upon SCs and  STs  alone.   This  proviso  was  inserted keeping in mind the judgment in Vinod  Kumar  which  took  the view that  relaxation  in  matters  of  reservation  in  promotion  was  not permissible under Article 16(4) in view of the command contained in  Article 335.  The Court, subject  to  certain conditions, as early as in 2006 had  upheld the constitutional validity  of  the Constitution(Seventy-Seventh (Amendment) Act;1995: the Constitution (Eighty-first Amendment) Act, 2000; the Constitution (Eighty-second Amendment)  Act,2000 and the Constitution (Eighty-fifth Amendment) Act, 2001 in Nagraj Case.