Cabinet clears SC/ST promotion bill

The Union cabinet approved the controversial proposal to provide quota for SC/STs in promotions, which would require certain changes in the constitution. The government may introduce the constitution amendment bill in the monsoon session of Parliament, which is scheduled to end on Friday.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had promised the provision of a "legally sustainable" solution to the demand raised during an all-party meeting on August 21.

All political parties - with the exception of the Samajwadi Party - had backed the demand for quota in promotions for scheduled caste and scheduled tribe members, first raised by Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati.

The proposed bill seeks to amend at least four articles of the constitution to enable the government to provide quota in promotions to SC/STs. It seeks to remove the term "inadequate representation", mentioned in Article 16 (4) to justify reservation in promotion and appointments, and also delink the term "efficiency of administration" from the claims of SCs/STs for jobs and promotions, mentioned in Article 335.

Changes will also be made in articles 341 and 342 of the constitution, following the advice of the government's top law officer, Attorney General GE Vahanvati, on the issue.

Vahanvati, in his opinion to the Department for Personnel and Training (DoPT), cautioned that the "government may proceed with its bill to amend the constitution for providing reservation to SCs/STs in promotion, but it is vulnerable to legal challenges".

Mayawati had raised the issue in Parliament after the Supreme Court, on April 28, struck down her government's decision in this regard.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.