New Delhi, Sept. 5: The Supreme Court had in a 2006 ruling cleared both the concept of reservation in promotions for backward classes at the first stage and consequential seniority at the next stages, provided empirical data justified the need for it.
The top court had upheld the 77th, 81st and 85th amendments to the Constitution, but clarified that these were only enabling provisions. States would have to undertake an intensive exercise to gather data right down to the cadre level to show that reservation in promotions were justified for a particular section.
Backwardness would have to be determined on the basis of objective criteria, inadequacy of representation in public employment has to factually exist and the state would also have to show under Article 355 that efficiency in administration would not be compromised in any way, the court said.
No state was bound to make such reservations. But when they did, they would have to undertake that exercise in earnest. No general study would do, but a specific study to justify preferential treatment would have to be undertaken.
“In this regard the concerned state will have to show in each case the existence of the compelling reasons, namely, backwardness, inadequacy of representation and overall administrative efficiency before making provision for reservation. As stated above, the impugned provision is an enabling provision.
“The state is not bound to make reservation for SC/ST in matter of promotions. However if they wish to exercise their discretion and make such provision, the state has to collect quantifiable data showing backwardness of the class and inadequacy of representation of that class in public employment in addition to compliance of Article 335,” the court had said.
“It is made clear that even if the state has compelling reasons, as stated above, the state will have to see that its reservation provision does not lead to excessiveness so as to breach the ceiling-limit of 50 per cent or obliterate the creamy layer or extend the reservation indefinitely.”
This was the condition for any law to be brought in by a state. In 2012, the top court struck down an attempt by the then Mayawati government to introduce such reservation in promotions without undertaking the mandatory exercise.
The Allahabad HC also struck down the consequential seniority rules on Jan 4, 2011. The top court upheld the HC order on April 27, 2012. Mayawati’s BSP has since been attempting to have the ruling circumvented by a constitutional amendment passed in Parliament.