Six months after President Ram Nath Kovind’s assent, the State Cabinet has decided to implement a law that seeks to provide reservation in promotions to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe employees. Its implementation, however, is subject to the Supreme Court’s final verdict on the pending case. Since the notification of the Act in June 2018, the coalition government has been under pressure to circumvent the SC’s February 2017 order striking down consequential promotions to SC/ST employees, which is likely to affect thousands of employees who will face demotion.
In June 2018, Mr. Kovind gave assent to the Karnataka Extension of Consequential Seniority to Government Servants Promoted on the Basis of Reservation (To the Posts in the Civil Services of the State) Bill, 2017, for providing reservation in promotions for employees of SC/ST communities.
Briefing reporters on the Cabinet decision, Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister Krishna Byre Gowda said the Cabinet has decided to implement the Act after a legal opinion from former Attorney-General of India Mukul Rohatgi, who is representing the State’s case in the apex court.
During the last hearing of the case a few days ago, the Supreme Court recorded the State government’s written statement presented by Mr. Rohatgi and the court had not objected to it. Mr. Rohatgi has told the government to implement the law. However, the implementation is subject to the final outcome of the Supreme Court’s verdict, which is expected to hear the case in the first week of February, said Mr. Gowda. In June last year, the apex court had directed the government to maintain status quo.
“The government has gone with the legal expert’s opinion,” Mr. Gowda said. “The court has not made any observations against the implementation of the law. The question of contempt of court does not arise,” he added. Officials will frame rules and prepare the list for employees for promotion. There would not be much impact on the State exchequer by implementing the Act, Mr. Gowda said.
The new law is aimed at determining seniority of government servants promoted on the basis of reservation in the civil services posts of the State. The State has been providing reservation in promotions for SC/ST employees since 1978 — 15% for SCs and 3% for STs.