Petitioners on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that government employees in higher services belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes should not be allowed to avail of reservation in promotions as the presumption of their backwardness disappears after they start working for the government, PTI reported.

“Reservation in promotion is quite different from reservation at entry level, where candidates from SC/ST communities get the job,” senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, who represented these petitioners, told a five-judge Constitution bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice Kurian Joseph, Justice RF Nariman, Justice SK Kaul and Justice Indu Malhotra. “The question is whether initial presumption of backwardness is available to communities for all levels even after they become IAS [officers], district judges and secretaries.”

While quota in promotions for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes can be continued for class-3 and class-4 services, it should not be allowed for higher services, Dwivedi argued. Referring to Article 16 of the Constitution, he said job applicants belonging to these marginalised communities should be considered backward at the entry level and not later.

The Supreme Court on August 24 asked why reservations should be granted to the family members of people from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes who are already in high official positions. The court was hearing a petition demanding that the “creamy layer” of these communities not be granted benefits of reservation.

Based on a 2006 ruling, people from Other Backward Classes do not get to avail of reservation benefits if they are designated as “creamy layer” – the relatively wealthy people from marginalised communities. However, all members of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes get the benefits irrespective of their economic status.

Earlier, the Centre had told the court that the concept of “creamy layer” cannot be applied to deny reservation benefits in promotions to government employees from the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes as the stigma of backwardness is still attached to these communities.