Case Summary

B.K. Pavitra V Union Of India

B.K. Pavitra V Union Of India(B.K.Pavitra II) (10 May 2019) 

FACTS

In B.K.Pavitra I, the court struck down Sec 3 & Sec 4 of the Reservation Act 2002 as they were ultra vires to Article 14 & 16 of the Indian Constitution on the ground that they were not in consonance to the parameters held in Nagaraj. Following the decision in B.K.Pavitra I, Reservation Act, 2002 was held invalid.

The State of Karnataka established Ratna Prabha Committee to submit a quantitative report which could demonstrate the parameters laid down in  M Nagaraj V Union of India which are as follows:-

  1. Cadre wise representation of SCs/STs
  2. Current backwardness of SCs/STs
  3. Effect on administrative efficiency due to reservation in promotion to SCs/STs

The committee submitted the report on 5 May 2017 and the basis of this report Reservation Act,2018 was passed which was preceded by Karnataka Determination of Seniority of Govt. Servants Promoted based on reservation (to the posts in civil services of the State) Act 2002.

Regarding the Reservation Act 2018, petitioners’ grievances were that the State govt. had re-enacted the earlier legislation(as of 2002 Act) without curing its defects. Also, the Reservation Act 2018 was not in compliance with the Nagaraj & Jarnail. To this, the state govt.asserted that the collection of data has been done in consonance to the parameters laid down by Nagaraj. 

QUESTIONS OF LAW

  • Whether Reservation Act 2018 a legislative overruling if B.K. Pavitra I or not
  • Whether Reservation Act 2018 in conformity with Constitutional Bench judgements in Nagaraj & Jarnail or not.

HELD

  • Reference of both Nagaraj & Jarnail was given :

In M Nagaraj V Union Of India, it required the state to produce compelling evidence in order to introduce a reservation in promotion policy, and it required the state to follow three parameters that are further backwardness, inadequate representation and maintenance of administrative efficiency.

In Jarnail Singh V Lacchmi Narain Gupta, the first criteria given in Nagaraj was removed, but the introduction of creamy layer exclusion principle was introduced, according to which high-income group of SCs/STs can’t avail reservation in promotion.

To the first issue, the court held that the Reservation Act 2018 was not a legislative overruling of B.K.Pavitra I as this Act changed the basis of B.K.Pavitra I  by providing data. The court held that corrective legislation is constitutionally possible.

To the second issue, the court analyzed the data provided by the state which demonstrated backwardness, inadequate representation and administrative efficiency, which are as follow:

Backwardness/Creamy Layer: The court did not look into the data related to backwardness as this criteria was removed in Jarnail, but the creamy layer exclusion principle was added regarding which the committee had not collected any data as the judgement of Jarnail came after making the report, and hence the court upheld the Reservation Act 2018.

Inadequate Representation: The report concluded that there was an inadequate representation of SCs/STs in Grade A, B, C of State Govt.services, but in Grade D, their representation was adequate. Also, the under Reservation Act 2018 the reservation in promotion would be allowed until the SCs/STs representation reaches 15% & 3% respectively.

Efficiency: Justice Chandrachud criticized the predominant merit-based approach to maintaining administrative efficiency. He opined that the representative notion of efficiency is congruent with the policy of consequential seniority.

The court opined that court’s power of Judicial Review was limited as the area of the reservation lies within the domain of executive and legislature. The court could only strike down the legislation if Ratna Prabha Committee had relied on extraneous or arbitrary considerations. 

Submitted By: Prabhjot Kaur

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