SC dismisses petition seeking review of the 2019 verdict that upheld the constitutionality of the Karnataka Reservation Act, 2018

Supreme Court: The bench of UU Lalit and Dr. DY Chandrachud, JJ has refused to review it’s verdict in B K Pavitra v Union of India, (2019) 16 SCC 129 wherein it had upheld the constitutional validity of the Karnataka Extension of Consequential Seniority to Government Servants Promoted on the Basis of Reservations (to the Posts in the Civil Services of the State) Act 2018.

The Review Petition was filed on the ground that did not consider the binding principles laid down by a Constitution Bench of this Court in M. Nagaraj v Union of India, (2006) 8 SCC 212 and Jarnail Singh v Lachhmi Narain Gupta, 2018 (10) SCC 396 were not considered by the Court  in it’s May 10, 2019 judgment and that, in any case, the matter should have been referred to a Bench of a higher strength. It has also been urged, inter alia, that there is an error apparent in the findings of this Court on the retrospective application of the Reservation Act 2018 and the inapplicability of the ‘creamy layer’ concept to consequential seniority.

The Court, however, said that every ground urged in the review petitions has been addressed on merits in the judgment under review and that it did not find any error apparent on the record to justify interference

The Court had, in it’s May 10, 2019 verdict held,

“The object of the Reservation Act 2018 is to accord consequential seniority to promotees against roster points. In this view of the matter, we find no reason to hold that the provisions in regard to retrospectivity in the Ratna Prabha Committee report are either arbitrary or unconstitutional.”

On the issue of creamy layer, the Court had held,

“The Reservation Act 2018 adopts the principle that consequential seniority is not an additional benefit but a consequence of the promotion which is granted to the SCs and STs. In protecting consequential seniority as an incident of promotion, the Reservation Act 2018 constitutes an exercise of the enabling power conferred by Article 16 (4A).”

The bench had, earlier this year, refused to entertain the applications challenging the validity of Karnataka’s 2018 reservation law, which granted reservation in promotion to employees belonging to SC and ST categories. The Court held that applications filed by a group of general category employees for applying ‘post-based quota’ and the principle of the creamy layer at entry-level in public employment were not maintainable. The maintainability of the MAs was challenged on the ground that though styled as an application for directions, they seek to lay a substantive challenge to the subsequent directions and clarifications issued by the State government in implementing the Reservation Act 2018.

[BK Pavitra v. Union of India, Review Petition (C) No. 1632 of 2019, order dated 30.07.2020]

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