New Delhi, August 21, 2012: Following is the text of Prime Minister’s opening remarks at the All Party meeting on Reservation in promotions in New Delhi today:
“Dear colleagues, I have called this meeting to discuss the issue of reservation in promotion specifically in respect of the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of U.P. Power Corporation Ltd. vs. Rajesh Kumar & Ors. wherein the Court has struck down provision of reservation in promotion to SCs and STs in the State of UP.
You may be aware that the Government had always been committed to protect the interests of the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes and on certain occasions did not hesitate even to bring constitutional amendments.
You may recall that the Supreme Court in its judgment dated 16.11.1992 in the case of Indra Sawhney had, inter alia, held that reservation in promotion is ultra vires but allowed its continuation for five years from the date of judgment as a special case. The 77th amendment to the Constitution was made in 1995 inserting clause (4A) to Article 16 before expiry of five year which enabled the Government to continue reservation for SCs and STs in promotion.
Clause (4A) of the Constitution was further modified through 85th amendment so as to give benefit of consequential seniority to SC/ST candidates promoted by reservation.
The 81st amendment was made to the Constitution whereby clause (4/B) was incorporated in Article 16 of the Constitution which permits to treat the backlog reserved vacancies as a separate and distinct group, to which the limit of 50% may not apply. This enables the Government to launch Special Recruitment Drives to fill up the backlog vacancies reserved for SCs/STs and OBCs. During the Drive of 2004, more than 60,000 backlog reserved vacancies were filled up. The Special Recruitment Drive, 2008 has already resulted in filling up of 43,781 vacancies.
The 82nd amendment was made to the Constitution whereby a proviso was incorporated in Article 335 of the Constitution which enabled the State to give relaxations/concessions to the SC and ST candidates in the matter of promotion.
The aforesaid four Constitutional amendments were made in order to protect the interests of the backward classes including Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The validity of all these four Amendments were challenged before the Supreme Court through various writ petitions clubbed together in M. Nagaraj & others vs. Union of India & others mainly on the ground that these altered the basic structure of the Constitution.
In order to ensure that the case of Government is put effectively before the Supreme Court, Shri K.Parasaran, an eminent lawyer, having the experience of defending the interests of weaker sections, was engaged with the approval of the then Law Minister. It was through the efforts of the Government that the Supreme Court in its judgment dated 19.10.2006 in the matter of M. Nagaraj & others v. Union of India & others upheld the validity of all these four amendments. However, the Court stipulated that the concerned State will have to show in each case the existence of the compelling reasons, namely, backwardness, inadequacy of representation and overall administrative efficiency before making provision for reservation. The Court further held that the impugned provision is an enabling provision. If the State Government wish to make provision for reservation to SCs and STs in promotion, 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 335.
There were some Court cases filed in different states on the ground that the pre-requisite conditions as laid down by the Supreme Courts in M. Nagaraj case have not been observed while providing reservation in promotion. In the recent past the Supreme Court has struck down reservation in promotion in some states. The Government is exploring the possible solution of the current situation. Your suggestions will be of immense help to the Government to decide on the issue. I request you to provide your valuable suggestions so that a legally sustainable solution may be arrived at.”