State not bound to collect quantifiable data relating to adequacy of representation of SCs & STs if it decides to provide no reservation

Supreme Court: The bench of L. Nageswara Rao and Hemant Gupta, JJ has held that no mandamus can be issued by the Court to the State to collect quantifiable data relating to adequacy of representation of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in public services. The Court also held

“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 the State Government to provide reservations.”

The Court was hearing a matter where the decision of the Uttarakhand Government had come under scanner where it had decided that all posts in public services in the State shall be filled up without providing any reservations to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in promotions in the posts of Assistant Engineer (Civil) in Public Works Department, Government of Uttarakhand. When the matter reached the High Court, it said that the State is not obligated to provide reservation in promotions to members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes as Article 16(4-A) of the Constitution is an enabling provision. It, however, directed the State Government to collect quantifiable data regarding inadequacy of the representation of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in Government services which would enable the State Government to take a considered decision on providing or not providing reservation.

Disagreeing with the view taken by the High Court, the Supreme Court explained that the data to be collected by the State Government 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, is a pre-requisite for providing reservations, and is not required when the State Government decided not to provide reservations. Not being bound to provide reservations in promotions, the State is not required to justify its decision on the basis of quantifiable data, showing that there is adequate representation of members of the Scheduled Castes and Schedules Tribes in State services.”

It, further, said that even if the underrepresentation of Scheduled Castes and Schedules Tribes in public services is brought to the notice of this Court, no mandamus can be issued by this Court to the State Government to provide reservation in light of the law laid down by this Court in C.A. Rajendran v. Union of India, (1968) 1 SCR 721 and Suresh Chand Gautam v. State of UP, (2016) 11 SCC 113.

The Court, hence, held,

“the direction given by the High Court that the State Government should first collect data regarding the adequacy or inadequacy of representation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in Government services on the basis of which the State Government should take a decision whether or not to provide reservation in promotion is contrary to the law laid down by this Court and is accordingly set aside.”

[Mukesh Kumar v. State of Uttarakhand, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 148, decided on 07.02.2020]

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