Mere fact that there is no proportionate representation in promotional posts for the population of SCs and STs is not by itself enough to grant consequential seniority to promotees, the bench said.
The Supreme Court, in BK Pavitra vs. Union of India, has declared that the provisions of the Karnataka Determination of Seniority of the Government Servants Promoted on the Basis of Reservation (To the Posts in the Civil Services of the State) Act, to the extent of doing away with the ‘catch up’ rule and providing for consequential seniority to persons belonging to SCs and STs on promotion against roster points, were ultra vires Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution.
The Act envisages grant of consequential seniority to the government servants belonging to Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes promoted under reservation policy. The petitioners before the high court had urged that, due to this policy, SC/ST candidates got promotion early and on account of consequential seniority, percentage of SC/ST candidates was much higher than the permitted percentage and all top positions were likely to be filled up by SC/ST candidates without general merit candidates getting to higher positions. But the high court held the Act valid.
On appeal, a Supreme Court bench comprising Justice AK Goel and Justice UU Lalit observed that exercise for determining ‘inadequacy of representation’, ‘backwardness’ and ‘overall efficiency’ is a must for exercise of power under Article 16(4A).
Mere fact that there is no proportionate representation in promotional posts for the population of SCs and STs is not by itself enough to grant consequential seniority to promotes, who are otherwise junior and thereby, denying seniority to those who are given promotion later on account of reservation policy, the bench said.
The court also held that the high court erred in observing that it was for the petitioners to plead and prove that the overall efficiency was adversely affected by giving consequential seniority to junior persons who got promotion on account of reservation.
“It is for the State to place material on record that there was compelling necessity for exercise of such power and decision of the State was based on material, including the study, that overall efficiency is not compromised. In the present case, no such exercise has been undertaken,” it said.
Read the Judgment here.
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