BHUBANESWAR: Promotion of around 217 Section Officers of Odisha Secretariat Service (OSS) to the rank of Desk Officers hangs in balance as the State Government is not clear on the post-based reservation principle settled by Supreme Court in 1995.
A few senior bureaucrats of the state government are trying to interpret the Supreme Court ruling in their own way to facilitate speedier promotion to reserved category employees.
The Home department’s move to give promotion to Section Officers (SOs) belonging to Scheduled categories, selected under rules of reservation, against unreserved vacancy with a plea of their higher position in the inter-se-seniority list clearly violates the apex court ruling in the RK Sabharwal versus the State of Punjab in 1995.
As the October 25 decision of the Department Promotion Committee (DPC), headed by Home Secretary Sanjeev Chopra, to give promotion to 37 scheduled caste SOs against unreserved category (UR) posts drew strong protests from general category employees, the matter was taken up at the Chief Secretary level.
Chief Secretary Asit Tripathy reviewed the decision of the Home department at a high-level meeting represented by senior officers of Law, Finance and Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes departments on October 30 as the affected SOs met Minister of State for Home Dibya Shankar Mishra seeking justice.
Assuring justice to the affected officers, Mishra asked the Home Secretary to take a decision as per the law. As the issue could not be resolved at the Chief Secretary level, the matter was referred to the Law department.
“What is peculiar is that one of the senior members of the DPC is advocating promotion of SC candidates against UR posts while the officer representing the ST&SC Development department endorsed post-based promotion,” sources familiar with the development said.
Giving its views on the matter, the Law Department said, “It is significant to note that if a person belonging to a reserved category is selected in the general category on merit, his selection through promotion would not count against the quota prescribed for the reserved category.”
Though the Law department has returned the file giving its observation on November 4, the Home department is sitting over the file due to interference from a senior officer of the Finance department, the sources said.
Confusion in post-based promotion persists as the Law department is not issuing suitable instructions and the state government is not amending the Reservation of Vacancies in Posts and Services (for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) Act as per the apex court ruling.