‘After 75 yrs, India unable to bring SCs/STs at same level of merit as forward classes’

IANS-

Attorney General K.K. Venugopal on Wednesday submitted before the Supreme Court that it is a fact that even 75 years after gaining Independence, people belonging to Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) in the country have not been brought to the same level of merit as the forward classes.

A bench headed by Justice L. Nageswara Rao and comprising justices Sanjiv Khanna and B.R. Gavai said that if representation is low in Group A, and by accommodating rather than improving the representation in Group A, “you are ensuring that there is adequate representation in Groups B and C”.

Hearing the arguments on the reservation in promotions to SC/ST employees, the bench said: “This is not fair. This is the argument of the government.”

Venugopal submitted that it is “more difficult” for those belonging to SC/ST to get a higher post in Group A category of jobs.

He emphasized that the apex court should give some concrete basis for SC, ST, and Other Backward Class (OBC) communities to fill up vacancies, and pointed out that in Groups A and B jobs, there is under-representation; however, in Groups C and D, there is over-representation.

Venugopal submitted that in category A, merit is preferred and efficiency is looked into, and backwardness is not relevant there.

Venugopal said that even after 75 years, “we cannot bring SC/ST to the same level of merit as forward classes”. He added that in Groups A and B, it is difficult for the SCs and STs to get higher posts.

The bench pointed out that it is only hearing the issue in connection with reservation in promotions to SCs and STs.

The AG said that as per the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), there are about 5,000 cadres in the Centre and 53 departments, adding that he will file an affidavit in the matter.

Citing data from 1965-2017, another counsel for the Centre said that in Groups A and B, there is a shortage and possibly in Group C and certainly in Group D, there is over-representation.

Citing the data, the bench queried, “So, if you solely go by this, then there is an imperative need for discontinuing reservation in those classes. Isn’t it?”

The top court will continue to hear the matter on Thursday.

On Tuesday, the top court had queried the Centre on the nature of exercise it undertook to determine the adequacy of representation, for granting reservation in promotions for SC/ST employees.