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Support 117th Amendment Bill to end plight of SCs and STs

 

Monday June 09, 2014

India, Reservation in Promotion, Sharad Yadav, Indian Constitution, 117th Amendment Bill  
 
"It is a fact that from centuries the SC/STs are the deprived and depressed people of India as they have not been given an environment which other classes of the Society have been enjoying. Being in public life, I am of the firm opinion that this section of Indian Society has been neglected and their every new generation keeps on suffering in our country. It is unfortunate that even after 65 years of our independence we the politicians of India could not uplift their standard of living due to many obvious reasons."  
Sharad Yadav  
 

As you are aware that the 117th Constitution Amendment Bill, 2012 to provide reservation for the SCs and STs in Government job promotions, could not be discussed in the Lok Sabha due to disruptions by some party Members. Reservation has been available to SCs and STs in promotions since long.  The Supreme Court in its judgment dated 16.11.1992 in the case of Indra Swhney had held reservation in promotion as unconstitutional but allowed its continuation for five years from the date of judgment as a special case.  After expiry of five years, the 77th amendment to the Constitution was made in 1995 which enabled the Government to continue reservation for SCs and STs in promotion and Article 16(4A) was added in the Constitution.

 

On 10.10.1995 the Supreme Court in the matter of Virpal Singh Chauhan held that if an SC/ST candidate is promoted earlier than his senior general candidate, by virtue of rule of reservation roster, and the senior general candidate is promoted later to the said higher grade, the general candidate shall regain his seniority over such earlier promoted SC/ST candidate.

Further, 85th amendment to the Constitution was made by amending clause 4A so as to give benefit and retain the seniority to SC/ST candidate.  Reservation in promotions was challenged in many States.  All these cases were clubbed and heard by Supreme Court in M Nagaraj case.  The Supreme Court while ruling that the above 77th and 85th amendments were constitutionally valid, the concerned State will have to show in each case the existence of the compelling reasons namely backwardness and inadequacy of representation and overall administrative efficiency before making provision for reservation. Since the impugned provision was an enabling provision, the State was not bound to make reservation for SC/ST in the matter of promotions.

However, if they wish to exercise their discretion and make such provision, the State has to collect quantifiable data showing backwardness of the class and inadequacy of representation of that class in public employment in addition to compliance of Article of 335. As such, the Central Government has not made any change consequent upon Nagaraj case in its policy regarding reservation in promotion along with consequential seniority to SC/ST which was continuing since 2002.  Finally, the Supreme Court in its judgment on 27.04.2012 in the matter of UP Power Corporation V/s Rajesh Kumar, uphold its directions issued in the case of Nagaraj, and hence the 117th Constitutional Amendment as mentioned above was necessitated in the interest of SCs/STs.

If I may say so, the representation of reserved classes of the Society in our Courts is negligible and therefore to understand the agony and misery of SC/STs and backward class people is not possible for the Courts. It is a fact that from centuries the SC/STs are the depressed people of the Society as they have not been given an environment which other classes of the Society have been enjoying. Being in public life, I am of the firm opinion that this section of the Society has been neglected and their every new generation keeps on suffering in our country. It is unfortunate that even after 65 years of our independence we the politicians could not uplift their standard of living due to many obvious reasons.  A large number of people in our Society belong to this class and they are socially disadvantaged and generation after generation and century after century their living conditions have not been improved.

Since neither the Government has centralized data reflecting adequacy/ inadequacy of representation of SCs/STs in promotion quota, nor it has centralized data on cadre and grade wise representation of this class, I am of the view that the SCs/STs should be notified in the schedule under Article 341 and 342 of the Constitution. When SCs/STs are notified under Article 341 and 342, then automatically there will not any need to collect quantifiable data showing their backwardness of the class and inadequacy of representation of that class in public employment.

I have been visiting backward areas of various States in the country and I know their plight very closely.  Therefore, I am sure that unless we take immediate measures to safeguard the interests of SCs/STs as proposed in the 117th Constitutional Amendment Bill, the Society in the country will be divided and we will be left with no other remedial measures.  I would appeal to all political parties to come out vociferously in support of the 117th Constitutional Amendment Bill so that reservation for promotions to SCs/STs in Government jobs is continued and ensured.

[Author is the President of Indian Political Party Janata Dal (U), a Member of Indian Parliament and Convener of NDA]

 
 

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