The Madhya Pradesh high court struck down reservations for scheduled castes and tribes in government job promotions on Saturday, an order that affects over 30,000 employees and officers with possible implications in other states.
The division bench set aside promotions under the 2002 Madhya Pradesh Public Service Rules – that reserve 16% posts for scheduled castes and 20% for scheduled tribes in elevations – saying they violated Supreme Court guidelines.
The state BJP government will challenge the order in the Supreme Court. The rules were brought in by the then Congress government.
“The existing provision relating to reservation, backlog vacancies, carry forward of backlog vacancies...contained in the Rules of 2002 runs contrary to the constitutional provisions contained in clause (4A) and (4B) of Article 16 and Article 335 and law predicated in M Nagraj,” the HC said.
The decision comes amid a nationwide debate on lingering caste-based discrimination in educational campuses and workplaces following the January suicide of Dalit PhD scholar Rohith Vemula.
India provides quotas for scheduled castes, tribes and other backward classes but it is capped at the entry level. Critics say reservations in promotions will hurt deserving candidates.
“All promotions under the Rules of 2002 will be reverted and the gradation lists of various departments will have to be redrawn,” said advocate Amol Shrivastava.
In 2006, the SC said states couldn’t provide quotas in promotions without “quantifiable” data showing “backwardness” of the class and their inadequate representation in public employment, in addition to compliance with Article 335 that gives states power to provide reservation in promotion.
This verdict — Nagraj vs Union of India — was being violated by the MP rule, the HC held. As a result of this verdict, quotas in promotions in other states are rendered vulnerable to legal challenges.