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B.K. Pavitra v. Union of India

B.K. Pavitra v. Union of India

Citation – (2019) 16 SCC 129

Bench – Uday U. Lalit and D.Y. Chandrachud

Date – 10/05/2019

Facts of the Case

The Karnataka Determination of Seniority of Government Personnel Promoted on the Basis of Reservation (to Posts in the Civil Services of the State) Act, 2002 gave government servants from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes promoted under reservation policy consequential seniority. The petitioners filed a lawsuit challenging the law’s constitutionality.

The case was heard by a two-judge bench consisting of justices Uday U. Lalit and A.K. Goel in the Supreme Court.

The court decided in favour of the petitioners, citing a lack of measurable data to support the state’s claim of the need for reservation in public service promotions with consequential seniority, while the creamy layer concept was applied.

On the basis of the Ratna Prabha Committee’s recommendations, the state of Karnataka established a new law, the Reservation Act, 2018. The petitioner filed a second petition, this time challenging the new statute’s legitimacy.


  1. Is the 2018 Reservation Act still in effect?
  2. Doesn’t it overturn this Court’s judgement in B.K. Pavitra Vs Union of India, (2017) 4 SCC 620: (2017) 2 SCC (L&S) 128 without changing the decision’s foundation?
  3. Is it in violation of the law on seniority established by this Court in M.G. Badappanavar Vs State of Karnataka, (2001) 2 SCC 666: 2001 SCC (L&S) 489?
  4. Is there a clear desire to override the decision in B.K. Pavitra Vs Union of India, (2017) 4 SCC 620: (2017) 2 SCC (L&S) 128 in the context of the enactment of the Reservation Act, 2018?
  5. Was the Governor of Karnataka’s referral of the Bill to the President under Article 200 of the Constitution, as well as the ensuing events, constitutionally valid? Could the Bill have gone into effect without the Governor’s approval in this case?
  6. Is the Reservation Act, 2018 in compliance with the principles enunciated in the Constitution Bench decisions in M. Nagaraj vs Union of India, and Jarnail Singh vs LachhmiNarain Gupta? Is the Ratna Prabha Committee’s Report, dated 5-5- 2017, sufficient and relevant evidence to support the Act’s legality and implementation?
  7. Is the Reservation Act, 2018 applicable in the current writ petitions (filed by B.K. Pavitra and Shivakumar) to those departments or public corporations not covered by the Ratna Prabha Report or the law where there is over-representation?


  1. Section 3, 4, 5, 9, 1(2) of the Karnataka Determination of Seniority of the Government Servants Promoted on the Basis of Reservation (to the Posts in the Civil Services of the State) Act, 2002
  2. Section 3,4 of the Reservation Act, 2018
  3. Articles 14, 15, 16, 335,141 of the Constitution of India

Contentions by the Petitioners

The petitioners’ counsel argued that the Reservation Act, 2018 was enacted by the state of Karnataka to overturn the court’s judgement in B.K. Pavitra.

The new legislation was believed to be identical to the prior legislation.

The enactment of the statute disobeyed the bench’s decision by failing to make the necessary changes to the parts of the legislation that rendered it ultra vires, indicating an overruling of the law and a violation of the separation of powers because the legislature has no authority to overrule a Supreme Court decision.

The Ratna Prabha Committee report was criticised for not taking into account data from public sector undertakings, boards, and municipal bodies, among other things.

The report misidentified grades A, B, C, and D for cadres, demonstrating that the information is incorrect.

In this example, the concept of a creamy layer was not adequately implemented.

It was mentioned that there were no compelling reasons for consequential seniority, and that a state must offer reasons for exercising its powers under 16(4)(A) to confer consequential seniority.

Contentions by the Respondents

The enactment, it was argued, did not intend to overturn the B.K.Pavitra verdict.

The State Legislature has the authority to pass legislation that has retrospective or retroactive effect.

The reasons for a legislature’s enactment are not subject to judicial review.

Because seniority is not a vested or accruing right, the legislature has the authority to adopt legislation to address it.

The Ratna Prabha Committee study gathered quantitative data on all three elements (backwardness, inadequacy of representation, and overall efficiency) that are needed to determine whether reservations are necessary or not, and the evidence proved that the enactment is warranted.

The creamy layer notion only applies to OBCs, not SCs or STs, and it can only be used at the entry level, not in promotions.


The court upheld the Reservations Act 2018’s constitutional legality and rejected the petition.

The Honorable Supreme Court ruled that the state did not change the foundation of B.K. Pavitra’s ruling.

The court determined that the enactment complied with the principles set forth in the Nagaraj judgements of the Constitution Bench.

The court decided that the enactment followed the principles laid out in the Constitution Bench decisions in Jarnail, which established that the creamy layer

notion was applicable to OBCs but not to SCs and STs, and that the reservations in the current case were for SCs and STs but not for OBCs.

The court held that the reservation in promotion for SCs and STs has been provided until their representation in these categories reaches 15% and 3%, respectively, and that the above Government Order applies to departments with over-representation of SCs and STs, as well as departments not covered by the RPC report, because the departments not covered fall under the administrative control of one or the other.

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