States not bound to make reservation in promotions, says Supreme Court

A view of the Supreme Court of India building in New Delhi. File  

Reservation in promotion in public posts cannot be claimed as a fundamental right, the Supreme Court reiterated in a judgment.

A Bench of Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Hemant Gupta observed that State governments are not bound to make reservations. Even the courts could not issue a mandamus directing States to provide reservations.

“There is no doubt that the State government is not bound to make reservations. There is no fundamental right which inheres in an individual to claim reservation in promotions. No mandamus can be issued by the court directing the State government to provide reservations,” the apex court observed in its February 7 verdict.

Citing Constitution Bench precedents that had settled the law, the court said Articles 16 (4) and 16 (4-A) of the Constitution did not confer individuals with a fundamental right to claim reservations in promotion.

The Articles empower the State to make reservation in matters of appointment and promotion in favour of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes only “if in the opinion of the State they are not adequately represented in the services of the State”.

“The inadequacy of representation is a matter within the subjective satisfaction of the State,” the judgment said.

Thus, the State government has discretion “to consider providing reservations, if the circumstances so warrant”.

“It is settled law that the State government cannot be directed to provide reservations for appointment in public posts. Similarly, the State is not bound to make reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in matters of promotions,” the apex court explained.

However, if a State wishes to exercise its discretion and make reservation in promotions, it has to first collect quantifiable data showing inadequacy of representation of a class or community in public services.

If the decision of the State government to provide SC/ST reservation in promotion to a particular public post is challenged, it would have to place the data and prove before the court that reservation was necessary and does not affect the efficiency of administration.

The judgment was based in a batch of appeals pertaining to the reservations to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in promotions in the posts of Assistant Engineer (Civil) in Public Works Department of Uttarakhand.

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Printable version | Oct 26, 2021 3:07:39 AM |

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