In a landmark judgment, the Gauhati High Court has ruled that people representing SCs and STs would no longer be promoted in the Assam government services just because they belong to the backward classes as promotions should be done cadre-wise maintaining overall efficiency in the administration.
Justice Ujjal Bhuyan, giving the verdict in a writ petition filed by Equality Forum challenging reservation in promotion for STs and SCs in government services in the state, held that “What the one-man commission has done is that it has made a general statement about backwardness of SCs and STs and has not provided quantifiable data either on backwardness or on inadequacy of representation having regard to the promotional posts.”
The one-man commission was appointed by the state government to study the whole process of promotion in the state government services.
The court, however, made it clear that “the factum of SCs and STs being appointed/promoted against open/unreserved post in the state services is also a relevant factor to be considered while ascertaining both backwardness and inadequacy of representation”.
Justice Bhuyan further observed that “whether there is adequate representation or not has to be decided cadre-wise having regard to the service where the cadre is placed. Once it is found that in a particular cadre there is adequate representation of SCs and STs providing for representation to such communities in promotion too such cadre would not be justified.”
The court also held that “the concept of creamy layer is not acceptable to SCs and STs. However, having said that the court is of the considered opinion that the above factor would be relevant only at the time of initial recruitment”.
According to the court, “at the time of promotion, in the event, reservation is sought to be introduced, then an assessment of backwardness of the said communities having regard to their representation in the promotional cadre(s) would have to be carried out”.
The court observed that “the adverse impact on administrative efficiency due to the presence of reserve category candidate in the cadre because of accelerated promotion on account of reservation in promotion due to reservation is required to be assessed by applying objective measurable standard”.
“No doubt, it is a difficult task but nonetheless it has to be carried out if the State desires to provide for reservation in promotion,” the judge said.
( Source – PTI )