The Supreme Court has stayed the Karnataka government's order restoring the pay and rank of thousands of SC/ST employees who were demoted after the judgement in the BK Pavitra case in February 2017.
After the Supreme Court had struck down reservation in promotions given to SC/ST employees in its 2017 judgement, the Karnataka government passed a law to nullify the judgement and restore the promotions of SC/ST employees two years later on February 27.
A bench of judges, hearing a petition filed by General Category employees challenging the Karnataka government, asked the government's counsel to maintain the status quo until the hearing in the case is completed. This means that no promotions/demotions of SC/ST employees can take place until the hearing in the case is completed.
"A statement was made on July 27 by Karnataka’s Advocate General that the status quo would not change. This is a matter of institutional prestige of this court. When the hearing is at final stage on law, it is appropriate status quo is not altered," Justices U U Lalit and D Y Chandrachud said as per Deccan Herald.
If the Supreme Court's 2017 order is upheld and implemented, it will lead to a major reshuffle of personnel in government departments, with as many as 20,000 employees from Backward and General Categories set to be promoted in place of an equal number of SC/ST employees who will be demoted.
Background of the case
The BK Pavitra and others vs Union of India case refers to the petition by BK Pavitra, a government engineer working in the Bengaluru Development Authority (BDA), challenging the concessions in promotions given to SC/ST employees.
The SC, in its February 9 2017 order, had struck down seniority in promotions awarded to SC/ST employees in the state.
This meant that caste based reservation in promotions going all the way back to 1978 were struck down and the Karnataka government belatedly began implementing the order in 2018.
However, the government passed a law restoring the reservation in promotions set aside for SC/ST employees, leading to a fresh hearing on the issue. Meanwhile, several General Category employees had also petitioned the Supreme Court seeking ways to implement the order and gain promotions.