The Constitution does not confer any fundamental right to claim reservation in the matter of promotions in public posts, the Supreme Court has ruled adding a state cannot be compelled to do so if it chooses not to. A bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and Hemant Gupta which referred to earlier decisions of the court in this regard said.
“,,,Article 16 (4) and 16 (4-A) are in the nature of enabling provisions, vesting a discretion on the State Government 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”.
“However, if they (state) 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”, the bench said.
It added that “if the decision of the State Government to provide reservations in promotion is challenged, the State concerned shall have to place before the Court the requisite quantifiable data and satisfy the Court that such reservations became necessary on account of inadequacy of representation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in a particular class or classes of posts without affecting general efficiency of administration as mandated by Article 335 of the Constitution”.
The SC was deciding a group of appeals pertaining to the reservations to SC’s and ST’s in promotions in the posts of Assistant Engineer (Civil) in Public Works Department, Government of Uttarakhand.
The court said that “Article 16 (4) and 16 (4-A) empower the State to make reservation in matters of appointment and promotion in favour of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes “if in the opinion of the State they are not adequately represented in the services of the State’.” The judgement added it is for the State Government to decide whether this was necessary.
“The State can form its own opinion on the basis of the material it has in its possession already or it may gather such material through a Commission/Committee, person or authority. All that is required is that there must be some material on the basis of which the opinion is formed. The court should show due deference to the opinion of the State”, the SC said that such opinion is not beyond judicial scrutiny.
On the requirement for data collection, the court said this is only to justify reservation to be made in the matter of appointment or promotion to public posts, according to Article 16 (4) and 16 (4-A) of the Constitution.
“As such, collection of data regarding the inadequate representation of members of the Scheduled Castes and Schedules Tribes, as noted above, is a pre requisite for providing reservations, and is not required when the State Government decided not to provide reservations”, it said ruling on the Uttarakhand appeals.
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