Reservation in promotion: Throbs of discontent as hearing prolongs in Supreme Court

Lalit Shastri

Every time the reservation in promotion case of Madhya Pradesh has come up for hearing in Supreme Court since May 2016, the matter has been adjourned for a later date and in this way more than 10 months have passed but the case has not moved forward.

Yeserday, when the case came up for hearing in Supreme Court, the advocates representing the State government once again urged the court to advance the date of hearing. Later a two Judge bench comprising Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta, ordered the listing of the matters before a Bench in which one of the Judges (Deepak Gupta) will not be a member. The order also said that this case be tagged with SLP(C) No.19765-19767 of 2015, which will come up for next hearing on August 10, 2017.

Those affected by the latest postponement of hearing in this case by about five months are not just sad or frustrated, they are feeling absolutely devastated. While there is a blanket stay on promotions, so many have already retired and many more would be retiring before regular hearing even begins in this case. They are pointing their fingers and asking why nobody is understanding their plight and recognising the urgency of the matter.

Chief Justice of India Justice JS Khehar has recognised the priority in the matter of “triple talaq”. Stating that it is an issue of grave importance, the Chief Justice today said that the Supreme Court is ready to wind up the summer vacation and sit even on Saturdays and Sundays to hear the matter.

Role of Madhya Pradesh Government

The State Government, which has gone in appeal to the Supreme Court against the Jabalpur High Court order which declared as null and void the provision for reservation in promotion, has shown gross disregard to the hopes and expectations of hundreds of thousand government employees, whose avenues for promotion have remained blocked by the 2002 Rules that provide for reservation in promotion for SCs and STs (Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes), by repeatedly seeking postponement of hearing in this matter in the apex court.

SAPAKS founder Ajay Jain and President Anand Singh Kushwah, with MP and Senior Supreme Court lawyer Ram Jethmalani

The Madhya Pradesh Government has made it difficult for respondents and the “Samanya Pichda Alpsankhyak Adhikari Karmchari Sanstha” (SAPAKS) -the organisation formed by state government employees belonging to the unreserved category to defend their case in court – to remain focused in this case as they are finding it difficult to match the resources available with the government to pay a hefty fees to its lawyers. The State Government has sanctioned Rs 4 crore for this purpose and there are indications that the Government is even paying the fees for lawyers representing AJJAKS which is the short form for “Anusuchit Jati Jan Jati Adhikari Karmchari Sangh” (organisation of SC and ST government employees).

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