The Centre on Thursday told the Supreme Court that even though some people belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes have climbed a few steps in the economic ladder, the stigma of caste and backwardness continues to stick to them, emphasising reservation in promotion for the community.
"Even if some people of the (SC/ST) community have come up, the stigma of caste and backwardness is still attached to them and rest of the Hindus treat them inferior", Attorney General K.K. Venugopal told the five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra.
Backing up his argument that financial well-being of a section of SC/ST does not obliterate their social exclusion, the Attorney General referred to the media reports of upper castes people not permitting them to ride a mare while going to brides'' homes during marriage.
Pointing to deeply ingrained caste prejudice against the SC/ST, the AG said they still have to marry within their own caste as they are still shunned by the upper caste people when it comes to matrimonial alliances.
The bench reserved the judgment on Centre''s plea seeking reconsideration of its 2006 judgment laying down the criteria for reservation in promotion.
The Centre is pressing for reservation in promotion for SC/ST.
The 2006 judgment, also known as the Nagaraj case, had said: "... state will have to show in each case the existence of compelling reasons, namely backwardness, inadequacy of representation and overall administrative efficiency, before making provision for reservation in promotion."
Earlier, the AG had told the court that there was presumption of backwardness as far as SC/ST were concerned, but the requirement of quantifiable data coupled with overall administrative efficiency was coming in the way of giving reservation in promotion and as such lakhs of positions in the government, railways and other departments could not be filled up.