The Centre on Thursday told the Supreme Court that SC/ST employees from affluent background cannot be denied reservation in promotions in government jobs. The apex court had asked the Centre if those belonging to ‘creamy layer’ among SC/ST should be given quota benefits in promotion.
While advocating for the reservation in promotions, Attorney General KK Venugopal said that the stigma and imprint of backwardness and caste remains with SC/ST community for centuries even if some of them have come up. “Even today SC/ST people are socially backward and not allowed to marry higher caste people and ride horses,” the AG said.
The AG also said that the concept of creamy layer is not applicable for SC/ST and is not open for judicial review. He said that the question of excluding a certain class of SC/ST has to be decided by the President and Parliament and this exercise.
The five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra also comprises justices Kurian Joseph, RF Nariman, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Indu Malhotra.
Earlier on August 3, the apex court had asked the Centre as to why states have not come forward with any quantifiable data to decide the inadequacy of representation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in government services even 12 years after its verdict on the ‘creamy layer’.
The five-judge Constitution bench is examining whether its 12-year-old verdict that had dealt with the issue of ‘creamy layer’ for reservations to SC and ST categories in government job promotions needs to be re-visited by a seven-judge bench. The apex court had on July 11 refused to pass any interim order against its 2006 verdict and said that a five-judge bench would first see whether it needs to be examined by a seven-judge bench or not.
The M Nagaraj verdict of 2006 had held that the ‘creamy layer’ concept cannot be applied to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes for promotions in government jobs, like two earlier verdicts of 1992 Indra Sawhney and others versus Union of India (popularly called Mandal Commission verdict) and 2005 E V Chinnaiah versus State of Andhra Pradesh which had dealt with creamy layer in Other Backward Classes category.
It had reiterated that the ceiling-limit of 50 per cent, the concept of the creamy layer and the compelling reasons like backwardness, inadequacy of representation and overall administrative efficiency were all constitutional requirements, without which the structure of equality of opportunity in Article 16 would collapse.