The Karnataka Legislative Assembly on Friday unanimously passed a bill to ensure reservation in promotions for government employees belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The bill was passed on Friday at the Winter Assembly session in Belagavi, thereby giving legal weight to the already existing practice of reservation in promotions in the state.
By passing the bill, Karnataka has sidestepped a Supreme Court directive that stopped the state from exploring the legal route to introduce reservations for SC/ST persons in promotions of government jobs earlier this year.
The Supreme Court in February had ruled that the state does not have powers to provide reservation in promotions to the backward classes. The apex court was reviewing the case of BK Pavitra and others vs Union of India and others in a civil appeal filed in 2011. The court observed that determining the “inadequacy of representation, backwardness and overall efficiency” was a must for providing such a reservation.
The state has been providing reservation in promotions for SC and ST employees since 1978 with 15% reservation for SCs and 3% reservation for STs. Around 3,000 SC/ST employees working in government departments will face demotion if the Supreme Court order is implemented.
After the Supreme Court struck down provisions for promotions of people belonging to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe, the Karnataka government formed a committee led by Additional Chief Secretary Ratnaprabha to collate data and study the issue. The report compiled confirmed the backwardness of SC/STs and their inadequacy of their representation in the civil services.
The state government failed to get the Governor, Vajubhai Vala’s nod for an ordinance on the issue, and then decided to introduce the bill in the Assembly’s winter session in Belagavi on the basis of the report compiled by Ratnaprabha. The bill will now have to be passed by the Vidhana Parishad, after which it will need the Governor’s nod to be made into a law.