A massive row erupted in the Parliament on Monday after the Supreme Court in a major judgement ruled that reservation for appointments and promotions to public posts is “not a fundamental right”, forcing an adjournment of the Lok Sabha.
The ruling BJP and the opposition were engaged in a back-and-forth over the matter as the latter called for a review of the Supreme Court order.
The apex court, in its ruling on Friday, stated that there is “no fundamental right which inheres in an individual to claim reservation in promotions”, and also no court can order a state government to provide for reservation to SC/STs.
“In view of the law laid down by this Court, there is no doubt that the State Government is not bound to make reservations. There is no fundamental right which inheres in an individual to claim reservation in promotions. No mandamus can be issued by the Court directing the State Government to provide reservations,” a bench comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and Hemant Gupta said.
Reacting on the verdict, Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) President and MP Chirag Paswan told the Lok Sabha that his party does not agree with the top court’s decision that reservations for jobs, promotions, is not a fundamental right and urged the Centre to intervene in the matter.
Apna Dal’s Anupriya Patel too said the party cannot agree with the judgement while terming it as the “most unfortunate decision” given by the Supreme Court.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had earlier in the day, launched a scathing attack on the BJP and the RSS on the issue of quota in promotion.
He said the Congress will not let it happen and Modi government is attacking all the institutions in the country, adding that reservation is hurting the BJP and the RSS and they want to finish the system through various means.
“The reservation is hurting the RSS and the BJP. They want to erase it. Every morning when they wake up it irritates them. Whatever the fantasy, the RSS/BJP live in, we will not allow it to happen”, The Congress leader said.
“The issue is that the RSS and the BJP cannot live with the idea of Dalits, tribals and OBCs have reservation. This irritates them and they have tried to erase them”, he added.
In the Lok Sabha, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury hit out at the Narendra Modi-led government for inflicting a “big damage” to the key empowerment tool available to Dalits and asked the government to clarify its stand over the verdict.
Reacting to the opposition, Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said: “This is the Supreme Court’s decision. The government of India has nothing to do with it. The Social Welfare Minister will soon make a statement. Please wait for him.”
He also lashed out at the Congress for “politicising” the subject, reminding the party that it was in power in 2012 in Uttarakhand when the state decided to fill government posts without quotas to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
With the new judgement, the Supreme Court has overturned a 2012 ruling by the Uttarakhand High Court that directed the state to provide quotas to specified communities.
Citing the necessity of relevant data collection regarding the representation of SC/STs in public jobs, the apex court emphasized this exercise is pre-requisite to begin reservation. And this data collection exercise is not required when the state government decided not to provide reservations.
The top court observed the state government has the absolute discretion to decide whether or not to provide for reservation in jobs or reservation in promotions. Also, the state government is not under any obligation to do so.
Citing its judgement, the bench said that Article 16(4) and 16(4-A) are enabling provisions and the collection of quantifiable data showing the inadequacy of representation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in public service is a “sine qua non for providing reservations in promotions.”
The top court also clarified that a state government is bound to collect data regarding the inadequacy of representation of SCs/STs in government services when it wants to provide reservation but otherwise. The Supreme Court also observed that the state cannot be issued directions to provide reservations for appointment in public posts. “The State is not bound to make reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in matters of promotions”, added the court.
The Congress had on Sunday said the “essence of the reservation in the Constitution has received a blow” after the Supreme Court decision on the issue of reservation in appointments and promotions and alleged the rights of SC/ST communities have been constantly under threat during the BJP rule.