SC says quotas in promotions not fundamental right: Apex court references 2011 Allahabad HC verdict to uphold Uttarakhand govt's decision

  • States are not legally bound to provide quotas for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) in government jobs, the Supreme Court has said in a judgment.

  • Through its verdict, the apex court upheld the Uttarakhand government's decision taken on 5 September 2012 to fill positions in government jobs without providing for reservation.

  • The court has said that Article 16(4) and Article 16 (4-A) cannot be used as a basis to claim a fundamental right to reservation in promotions.

States are not legally bound to provide quotas for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) in government jobs and individuals have no fundamental right to claim reservations in promotions, the Supreme Court held in a judgment on Friday.

Through its verdict, the apex court upheld the Uttarakhand government's decision taken on 5 September, 2012, to fill positions in government jobs without providing for reservation.

Here is a brief overview of the case:

What the courT said

The court has said that Article 16(4) and Article 16 (4-A) cannot be used as a basis to claim a fundamental right to reservation in promotions. It said, "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. However, if they wish to exercise their discretion and make such provision, the State has to collect quantifiable data showing inadequacy of representation of that class in public services."

 SC says quotas in promotions not fundamental right: Apex court references 2011 Allahabad HC verdict to uphold Uttarakhand govts decision

File image of the Supreme Court. AP

Article 16 of the Constitution pertains to matters of equality of opportunity in matters of public employment, while sub-sections 4 and 4A pertain to reservations to SCs/STs in appointments and reservations in promotions respectively.

Article 16(4) states: "Nothing in this Article shall prevent the state from making any provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class of citizens which, in the opinion of the state, is not adequately represented in the services under the State.'

Article 16(4A) states: "Nothing in this Article shall prevent the state from making any provision for reservation in matters of promotion, with consequential seniority, to any class or classes of posts in the services under the state in favour of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes which, in the opinion of the State, are not adequately represented in the services under the State."

The Supreme Court on Friday also noted that the Uttarakhand government's decision to fill in position without providing for reservation was taken in order to comply with an order of the high court in the case of Vinod Prakash Nautiyal vs State of Uttarakhand. The high court's judgment had termed the provision which provided for this reservation [Section 3(7) of the The Uttar Pradesh Public Services Act, 1994] unconstitutional.

The Uttarakhand High Court's judgment, in turn, was based on a more detailed judgment of the Allahabad High Court in the case of Prem Kumar Singh vs State of UP on 4 January, 2011.  This judgment had said, "In case the state intends to provide reservation in promotion, it has to undertake an exercise for collecting quantifiable data with respect to backwardness of the class, their inadequate representation in a class or classes of posts in the services under the State..."

Legal background

In 1994, the Uttar Pradesh Public Services (Reservation for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes) Act, 1994 was passed by the (then undivided) state Assembly. The law provides for reservation in public services and posts in favour of persons belonging to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes.

Section 3(1) deals with reserving posts for SCs, STs and OBCs and states that 21 percent of vacancies should be reserved for Scheduled Castes, 2 percent for Scheduled Tribes and 27 percent for OBCs. Section 3(7) of the same Act essentially allowed for reservations in promotions. After Uttarakhand was carved out in 2001, the new state also adopted the law, with some modifications in the percentage of vacancies for the three categories.

However, on 5 July, 2012, the provision allowing for reservation in promotion was struck down by the Uttarakhand High Court. The state government's decision to fill vacancies without reservation came after this order.

The decision was challenged in the Supreme Court, and the apex court's verdict on Friday was in response to this case.

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Updated Date: Feb 10, 2020 21:34:48 IST