Supreme Court rejects pleas for post-based SC, ST reservation in Karnataka

The bench said if the applicants were aggrieved by the steps taken by the state government, then they should challenge it in 'independent proceedings'

The Supreme Court Thursday dismissed as "not maintainable" several applications seeking directions to the Karnataka government to apply post-based reservation and creamy layer principle at entry level with regard to promotions to SC and ST employees.

A bench of Justices U U Lalit and D Y Chandrachud said the miscellaneous applications (MAs) were challenging the actions taken by the state government to implement its Reservation Act of 2018 after the constitutional validity of the law was upheld by the apex court in May last year.

The bench said if the applicants were aggrieved by the steps taken by the state government, then they should challenge it in "independent proceedings".

"The present MAs are, in effect, a substantive challenge to the actions of the state government in implementing the Reservation Act 2018 through the government order dated May 15, 2019 and the circular dated June 24, 2019.

"If the applicants are aggrieved by the steps which have been taken by the state government, it is open to them to pursue a substantive remedy for challenging the steps taken by the state government in independent proceedings," the apex court said.

The top court was of the view that such MAs were "not maintainable".

"Having come to this conclusion, no need arises for this court to adjudicate upon the other contentions urged by senior counsel appearing for the applicants. We consequently dismiss the miscellaneous applications, but leave it open to the applicants to pursue such independent remedies as may be available in the law. We clarify that no observations have been made on the merits of the matter," the bench said.

The government order of May 15 last year had lifted the state's earlier stay on implementation of the reservation law and the June 24, 2019 circular contained frequently asked questions and their answers with regard to preparation of seniority list.

The apex court in its verdict of May 10 last had upheld the Karnataka government's 2018 law which provided for reservation in promotion and seniority to SC and ST employees, saying that establishing them as participants in governance was "intrinsic to an equal citizenship".

The top court had said that providing the reservation would not affect the efficiency of administration, was "not at odds with the principle of meritocracy" and "cannot be treated as the acquisition of creamy layer status".

The court had said it cannot be construed that promotees from SC and ST categories are not efficient or that efficiency would be reduced by appointing them as this was a "stereotypical assumption".

The apex court's verdict had come on a batch of petitions challenging the validity of the Karnataka Extension of Consequential Seniority to Government Servants Promoted on the Basis of Reservation (to the Posts in the Civil Services of the State) Act 2018.

The petitioners had contended that providing the reservations would affect the efficiency of administration, was at odds with the principle of meritocracy and would lead to creation of a creamy layer status.

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