In a judgment delivered Friday, the Supreme Court ruled that states are not legally bound to provide quotas to Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) in government jobs and held that individuals have no fundamental right to claim reservations in promotions.
According to a report in The Times of India, the court gave the verdict during a case regarding the validity of  a 2012 notification by the Uttarakhand government to fill up vacancies in government jobs without giving reservation to the SC/ST communities. The Uttarakhand High Court had struck down the notification and asked the government to provide representation to the specified categories.
File image of the Supreme Court. AP
Through its verdict the apex court overturned the Uttarakhand HC’s order and upheld the state government’s decision.
“There is no doubt 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 state governments to provide reservations,” NDTVquoted a bench comprising justices L Nageswara Rao and Hemant Gupta as saying.
Agreeing with the advocates representing the state who argued that there is no fundamental right for claiming reservation in promotions in public jobs, the top court held that that while articles 16(4) and 16(4A) of the Constitution give states the power to make such reservations, it is so only if in the opinion of the state they are not adequately represented in the services of the state.
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 favor 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 favor 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.”
“It is settled law the state cannot be directed to provide reservations for appointment in public posts. Similarly, state is not bound to make reservation for SCs/STs in matters of promotions,” the court said. As per The Times of India report, it further said that state governments may exercise their discretion in making such provisions, provided that it collects data showing the lack of representation to these categories in the government employment.
As per a report in theHindustan Times, the judgment says that the state will also have to justify its decision to provide reservations if challenged in a court of law. However, the state governement also need to collect data when making provisions for reservation and not when the government decides not to provide quotas.
The court thus ruled that even if the under-representation of SC/STs in public services is brought to the notice of the court, no direction can be issued by the court to the state government to provide reservation.
A review petition of the 2018 Supreme Court order which held that people belonging to the cream layer of the SC/ST community are not entitled to reservation, is also pending in in the Supreme Court.
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