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SC/ST Promotions bill: Karnataka State Government SC/ST Employees to organise state-level rally in Bengaluru on June 15.

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Rally for seeking early Presidential assent

The Karnataka State Government SC/ST Employees Coordination Committee has planned to organise a state-level rally in Bengaluru on June 15 in support of its demand for Presidential assent to the Karnataka Extension of Consequential Seniority to Government Servants Promoted on the Basis of Reservation (to the posts in Civil Services of the State) Bill 2017.

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According to the State President of the committee D.Shivshankar, as the Bill did not get Karnataka Governor’s assent, the State government was forced to place it before the President.

Around 20,000 to 25,000 employees from all the 30 districts of Karnataka will converge at the Freedom Park in the state capital to demand the Rashtrapati Bhavan to take a decision on the bill, which was he said was pending before the President’s office since about nine months now. The state’s legislative assembly unanimously adopted the bill on Nov.17, 2017.

The State government was compelled to come up with the curative legislation to tide over the constitutional crisis that erupted when the Supreme Court struck down Karnataka’s provision for providing reservation in promotion for the employees belonging to Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribes in the case of B.K. Pavitra and others verses India and others in what was a civil appeal in 2011. The apex court had observed that that there must be a proper exercise of determining “inadequacy of representation, backwardness and overall efficiency” for providing reservation in promotion. The state was also given three months time to revise the seniority list of the employees in its different departments, said Mr.Shivshankar, who is presently serving as Assistant Director in Department of Agriculture at Bengaluru.

Following the court’s decision the Karnataka government set up a committee of experts under the Additional Chief Secretary Ratnaprabha to undertake threadbare issues concerning the reservation for providing promotion to SC/ST employees in the light of the Supreme Court judgment and collate all the relevant data. Accordingly, the committee submitted its findings in its report acknowledging prevailing backwardness of SC/STs, inadequacies regarding their representation in the state’s civil services while maintaining that the overall efficiency of administration was not affected on account of promotions on the basis of reservation to SC/ST employees. Subsequently, the government reviewed the report before according its approval and decided to continue with the State government’s policy for providing reservation to SC/STs in promotions in vogue since 1978 to meet its constitutional obligations to protect the consequential seniority of the SC/ST employees of the state government provided under the 85th Constitutional Amendment Act.

This provision of the Constitution has been now prevented by the judgment of the apex court, resulting in unjustified demotions of large number of SC/ST officers, says Rahul S. Metri, President of the Belagavi district unit of The Karnataka State Government SC/ST Employees Coordination Committee. He said the state government promulgated the bill keeping in view the constitutional requirement of reservation in employment of SC/STs as well as those of the members falling under general category under the “catch up rule”. The bill complies with the Supreme Court judgment in the Pavitra case and in no way violate the constitutional provisions.

Mr.Shivshankar said the apex court judgment in the Pavitra case and over-enthusiasm shown by certain authorities sitting in corridors of the secretariat in implementing the Supreme Court judgment and causing unjustified demotions, delivered a severe blow to the SC/ST employees and their families. Jagdish Chalavadi, the 43 years old Deputy Tahsildar in Banavasi of Uttar Kannada district committed suicide by hanging after he was demoted to the post of Village Accountant. Another senior employee, Lingaraju, an Assistant Executive Engineer with the Public Works Department in Chitradurga was demoted to the post of Junior Engineer, the post he held on his recruitment to the department.

Mr.Metri pointed that more than 20,000 SC/ST employees in Karnataka State government departments had been affected and demoralised because of the Pavitra case. Their incomes reverted and being pushed into throes of financial crisis painting a bleak future of their children again vis-à-vis their educational growth and healthcare needs. Social stability of these families has been affected by the judgment and leading all the SC/ST employees into depression in varying degrees. The authorities were implementing the apex court judgment with over-enthusiasm for reasons best known to them but sit idle without implementing several other matters decided by various courts and the government, even in the matters where there were disputes.

He said the June 15 rally is to make a strong request to the President to take early decision on the Bill as any delay on the matter would only lead to injustice and demoralisation of thousands of SC/ST employees serving in the Karnataka State government departments.

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