The Supreme Court on Wednesday indicated that a seven-judge Bench may be constituted to examine whether a 2006 judgment by a five-judge Bench of the court interrupted the grant of quota in promotions.
A three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra scheduled a batch of over 40 petitions on the question of referral to a seven-judge Bench on August 3. The oral observation was in reaction to submissions made by Attorney General K.K. Venugopal that lakhs of promotions across government departments have been put on hold because of the Nagaraj judgment of 2006.
Mr. Venugopal, while urging the court to set up the seven-judge Bench, however unsuccessfully pleaded for interim orders.
The Bench refused to pass interim directions contrary to the Nagaraj judgment. As of now, the freeze in reservation for promotions would continue.
The five-judge Bench in the Nagaraj case had held that the creamy layer concept should be excluded from reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in government jobs. It had directed the upper limit of quota at 50%.
The Bench had also held that the State would have to justify in each case the compelling reasons – namely backwardness and inadequacy of representation — for providing reservation “keeping in mind the overall efficiency of State administration.”
“It is made clear that even if the State has compelling reasons, the State will have to see that its reservation provision does not lead to excessiveness so as to breach the ceiling limit of 50% or obliterate the creamy layer or extend reservation indefinitely,” the Constitution Bench had observed in the Nagaraj verdict.
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