The Delhi High Court has quashed the government order extending reservation in promotion to the employees belonging to the scheduled castes and tribes beyond five years from November 16, 1992. A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar set aside the office memorandum issued by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) in this regard in August 1997. Regarding the prayer of petitioners, including an NGO All India Equality Forum, to quash all promotions made after the office memorandum, the bench said the Supreme Court in an interim order had said that all promotions made would be subject to the outcome of the challenge before the high court. It said no further order was required to be passed by it as the prayer “consequently stands allowed to the extent that all promotions effected on the basis of the memorandum would stand quashed.” The bench restrained the government from granting reservation in promotion without first collecting the data on inadequate representation. It said reservation was being “blindly extended” beyond the five-year period since November 16, 1992, without any supporting data on inadequate representation of SC and ST employees.
“Any reservation (as also consequential seniority) extended to SCs and STs, without, in the first instance, conducting the requisite exercise of garnering quantifiable data, indicating inadequate representation, and juxtaposing, they’re against the considerations of backwardness and overall efficiency of administration, would necessarily infract Articles 16(1) and 335 of the Constitution and, consequently, be liable to be quashed,” it said. “The impugned office memorandum of August 13, 1997, issued by the DOPT cannot, therefore, sustain in view of the law laid down in the decisions…,” the bench said.
The nine-judge bench of Supreme Court had, in the Indira Sawhney case in 1992, permitted reservation for the SCs and STs in promotion to continue for a period of five years from November 16, 1992.