No separate SC/ST list needed for promotions in government department: HC
Panaji, Aug 10 (TOI): The high court of Bombay at Goa ruled that there cannot be a separate list of scheduled caste and scheduled tribe candidates in matters of promotion by selection in government departments.
Eight junior engineers of electricity department, had approached the high court in 2008, stating the joint seniority list prepared with general candidates for preparing “zone of consideration” for promotion resulted in injustice.
They claimed that due to a combined list, none of them appeared in the zone of consideration and they were not elevated as assistant engineers when they were eligible between 1999 and 2011. They were promoted between 2012 and 2017 during the pendency of the petition when they fell in the extended zone of consideration.
A division bench comprising Justice N M Jamdar and Justice Prithviraj K Chavan observed, “The primary contention of the petitioners that a separate list of SC and ST candidates in the matters of promotion by selection to the post of assistant engineer has to be maintained cannot be accepted.”
The court noted that the petitioners were not within the extended zone of consideration at the relevant time, and thus they were rightly not promoted.
According to the government, the policy of reservation for promotion is given effect by expanding the normal zone of consideration by five times.
Government advocate P Faldessai said the concept of zone of consideration consisting only of candidates belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes cannot be made applicable to promotions based on the selection for Class A and B posts.
Senior advocate A Agni, who appeared on behalf of the petitioners, contended that the adequate representation of the reserved candidates would not be achieved if they have to compete with the general category.
She said that government was not right in adopting a formula contained in the Office Memorandums as it would defeat the policy of reservation and principle enshrined in Articles 16(4)(a) and 16(4) (b) of the Constitution of India.
As per law, when adequate number of candidates belonging to SC/ST are not available within the normal zone of consideration, the zone be extended to five times and the candidates belonging to SC/ST coming within it would be considered. This methodology is adopted by the government and it relied upon the office memorandum of December 24, 1980, while determining the zone of consideration for the post of assistant engineer.
The bench held, that “as per the recruitment rules the promotion to the post of assistant engineer, a Class B post, is by selection method. For this method of promotion and this class, specific office memorandums and circulars hold the field. Without challenging these, the petitioners are attempting to introduce the concept of a separate list of SC/ST candidates in promotion meant for Class B posts by selection, by dispensing the concept of five times extended zone.”