Sharath S. Srivatsa

Tribunal says government acted in haste

Government notified seniority list on March 23 for promoting SC/ST engineers

Engineers in general category promoted in May 2007 fear they will be demoted once list is out

BANGALORE: In a major setback for the government, the Karnataka Administrative Tribunal (KAT) has stayed the final seniority list of Assistant Executive Engineers Division I notified to promote engineers on the basis of reservation and has observed that the government acted in haste though the matter was pending before the Supreme Court.

The government notified the seniority list on March 23 for promoting Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe engineers in the Department of Public Works, Ports and Inland Water Transport, under the Karnataka Act 10 of 2002, also called the “Karnataka Determination of Seniority of Government Servants promoted on the basis of reservation (to the posts in the civil services of the State) Act 2002”, which had been questioned in the Supreme Court.

The tribunal, in its interim order, has said that if the State Government was keen on according seniority and consequential benefits to persons belonging to SC/ST with effect from April 27, 1978, it should have sought permission of the court since the entire matter is pending before it.

Engineers’ fears

Engineers in the general category, who approached the tribunal, had aired their apprehension that once the seniority list of AEE Division 1 is announced, 35 engineers who were promoted as Chief Engineers and 65 as Superintendent Engineers in the Public Works Department and Water Resources Department during May 2007, were likely to be demoted.

Pointing out the endorsement given by the State Government to certain candidates belonging to SC/ST when they made representation for fresh seniority list based on reservation in April 2007, the tribunal observed that the government had issued an endorsement stating that a fresh seniority list could not be published unless the Supreme Court delivered its verdict. Following which the tribunal observed, “There is no material change in the position. It is not known what prompted the government to change its stand. No material is produced before us to show that there is any compelling reason to take a departure from its stand earlier.”

Acted in haste

Though the tribunal had earlier stated that the government should not act overnight, it felt that the list was finalised without considering its opinion.