The Supreme Court, in a significant verdict on Friday, has ruled that scheduled caste and scheduled tribe members cannot claim quota as a right in government job promotions.
A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Prafulla C Pant said states were not constitutionally obliged to give preferential treatment to any community in promotion.
Referring to Articles 16(4), 16(4-A) and 16(4-B) of the Constitution mandating socially affirmative action to help the disadvantaged groups, the court said states were not bound to make reservation for SCs/STs in promotion, and the court could not order making reservation in promotion mandatory.
The bench said that the provisions allowed the government to exercise discretion and provide for reservation only after collecting quantifiable data showing backwardness of a class and inadequacy of their representation in public employment.
Article 16(4-A) provides that nothing 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 in favour of SCs and STs which, in the opinion of the state, were not adequately represented.
The bench refused to direct Uttar Pradesh government to carry out an exercise to find the representation of SCs/STs in government jobs to frame a policy for reservation in promotion.
“The state is not bound to make reservation for SCs and STs in matter of promotions. Therefore, there is no duty. In such a situation, to issue a mandamus to collect data would tantamount to asking the authorities whether there is ample data to frame a rule or regulation. This will be in a way, entering into the domain of legislation,” it said.
The Constitution granted discretionary power to the government to frame law for reservation in promotion and the government could not be forced to bring regulation on the issue, the bench said.
“The courts do not formulate any policy, remains away from making anything that would amount to legislation, rules and regulation or policy relating to reservation. The courts can test the validity of the same when they are challenged. The court cannot direct for making legislation or for that matter any kind of subordinate legislation,” the bench said while rejecting a PIL seeking a direction to the UP government to grant reservation in promotion.