Reservation in promotion: Supreme Court leaves it to the states to decide

Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, had submitted that SC/STs have been sidelined from the mainstream for years.

The Centre had told the bench that it is a fact of life that even after around 75 years if independence, those belonging to SCs and STs have not been brought to the same level of merit as the forward classes.

The Supreme Court today refused to lay down a yardstick for granting reservation in promotion to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in government jobs and left the decision to the states. A three-judge bench headed by Justice Nageswara Rao said states are obligated to collect data on the inadequacy of representation of SCs/STs.

The top court said it cannot lay down any yardstick to determine the inadequacy of representation of SCs/STs in services for which reservation in promotion is being granted to such communities.

A Bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao, Sanjiv Khanna and BR Gavai said that the state governments should collect data regarding SC/ST representation in services as laid down in the 2006 judgment of the Supreme Court in M Nagaraj v. Union of India. The Court also said that ‘cadre’ should be considered as a unit for collection for quantifiable data and not the entire service.

Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, had submitted that SC/STs have been sidelined from the mainstream for years.

The Centre had earlier asked the court to lay down a definite and decisive ground for the Union of India and the states to implement reservation in promotions to SCs and STs in government jobs. The Centre had told the bench that it is a fact of life that even after around 75 years if independence, those belonging to SCs and STs have not been brought to the same level of merit as the forward classes. The apex court had reserved its verdict on October 26, 2021.

In 2018, a five-judge Constitution bench had refused to refer to the 2006 judgement in the M Nagraj case, in which the creamy layer concept was extended to the SCs and STs to a larger seven-judge bench for reconsideration, reported PTI. It had also paved the way for a grant of quota for promotions in the government jobs to SCs and STs and had modified the 2006 judgement to the extent that the states will not be required to collect quantifiable data reflecting the backwardness among these communities to justify the quota in promotions.

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