BENGALURU: The state government is likely to face contempt of a Supreme Court order for the second time in six months for not preparing the seniority lists of officials before the January 15 deadline. In a historical judgment, the court, in February last year, struck down the consequential seniority in promotions awarded by the state government for SC and ST employees since 1978. This meant demoting these officials by one or two ranks, and this would affect about 22,000 employees in 64 departments.
The apex court had given the state six months to prepare the seniority list, based on which promotions should have been given. But the government does not seem to have the list ready yet. In September 2017, a contempt petition was filed by the petitioners. Then, the government had sought six more months’ time to prepare the list. The Supreme Court had then directed the state to complete the exercise by January 15.
“Now, with no working days left, it is unlikely that the government can avoid a contempt order against it for the second time in six months. It’s was a holiday on January 13 (second Saturday), then Sunday. Monday is a closed holiday for Sankranti. We might face another contempt,’’ sources in the Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms (DPAR) said.
Recently, DPAR secretary Anil Kumar Jha sent a 12th reminder to several departments including PWD (Public Works Department). When contacted, Jha said they are working on it. “From time to time, we have been sending reminders to all heads of departments. Many have sent the details, but there are departments like Revenue, Home and Health where there are a large number of employees. In some departments, the seniority list is not done because the lower cadre list has not been rectified. That is affecting preparation of the senior cadre list. But very significant progress has been made and we are collating the final figures from the different departments.”
Top officials in the departments of Finance, DPAR, Law and others held a meeting on Friday to discuss the affidavit the state has to submit to the Supreme Cout on Monday with regard to reservation in promotions. The government, in the affidavit, is expected to seek more time to compile and submit the reworked seniority list of officials. According to sources, while 30 of the 44 departments had completed the process, 14 departments are yet to complete the exercise.
Sources in DPAR said the government seems to be in no hurry to implement the SC order as it will affect a large section of SC/ST employees, which is not good for them especially when the state is facing assembly polls soon. But, coming to the state’s rescue, Congress leader in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjuna Kharge, has recently written a letter to Home Minister Rajnath Singh recently.
In the letter, Kharge said that in November 2017, both Houses of the state legislature passed 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) Bill. He also mentioned that the Bill had reached the Governor for his assent, but the government had decided to reserve the matter for the President’s consideration and hence sent it to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs. Kharge sought Singh’s help in getting Presidential approval for the Bill at the earliest in the interest of over 50,000 SC and ST employees.
What The Order Said
In its order, the Supreme Court said the state government does not have powers to grant promotion in reservation to backward classes — which means those who were promoted under the reserved category, would face demotions, while those in the general and other backward categories who were awaiting promotions for years, may get their due. There is no proportionate representation in promotional posts for the population of SC/ST and it is not by itself enough to grant consequential seniority to promotees who are otherwise junior, while denying seniority to those given promotions later, on account of the reservation policy.