In the leading case Mukesh Kumar vs The State Of Uttarakhand, the SC ruled out that the state governments are not bound to fill vacancies under the rules of reservation for the SCs, STs, and OBCs. The court gave the decision over a group of appeals by Mukesh Kumar about SC and ST reservation in promotions in the posts of Assistant Engineer (Civil) in PWD, Uttarakhand Govt. The Supreme Court refused to issue a direction to the Uttarakhand state government to provide reservation to these candidates for filling vacancies. Since the availability of reservation is contingent upon the discretion. Hence, the court did not issue the writ of mandamus to issue directions.
In the Supreme Court Of India
|Name of the case||Mukesh Kumar vs The State Of Uttarakhand|
|Citation||(2020) 3 SCC 1|
|Judgment date||7 February 2020|
|Appellant||Mukesh Kumar & Anr|
|Respondent||The State of Uttarakhand & Ors.|
|Bench/ Judges||L. Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta|
|Acts Involved||Constitution of India – Articles 16, 16 (4) and 16(4A)|
|Important Sections||National Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993 – Section 3(1), Section 3 (7)|
The reservation policy is an old age concept that is being followed in India since a long time ago to bring each community on the same footing and away from inequality. For such purpose, the Constitution of India has incorporated special provisions for the betterment of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes, along with the abolition of untouchability and several pronouncements were also made by Indian Judiciary. The main objective behind the policies of reservation was to
enhance the educational and social status of the underprivileged communities and thus improves their lives.
Background of the Case
There has been a long issue and persistent tussle between the court and the government for reservation in promotions. There were a series of amendments from time being which relates to reservation :
- 1995 – 77th Constitutional Amendment [Article 16(4A)]
The effect of the Indra Sawhney case has been nullified by the 77th Constitutional Amendment by introducing Article 16(4A) that is a special provision which provides for reservation for promotion only to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes and amended several times, to promote increased reservation by states when the state believes that they are not adequately represented in the government services.
- 2000 – 81st Constitutional Amendment [Article-16(4B)]
In this amendment Carry forward rule was introduced where the state is allowed to carry forward the unfulfilled vacancies of the previous year to be fulfilled in the succeeding year. Such a class of vacancies shall not be considered together with the vacancies of the year in which they are being filled.
- 2000 – 82nd Constitutional Amendment [Inserted provision to Article- 335]
This amendment reverses the judgment of S Vinod Kumar v. Union of India where it was held that the relaxation in the qualifying marks is not permissible in the matter of reservation in promotion. The amendment reversed and stated that the state is allowed to make relaxation in the qualifying marks for the reservation in promotion in the class of SC/STs to any class of public services or post.
- 2001 – 85th Constitutional Amendment [Article-(4A)]
This is inserted to give the benefit of consequential seniority to SC/ST candidates promoted by reservation. In this amendment, the Parliament nullified the catchup rule introduced in Ajit Kumar v. the State of Punjab and introduced the principle of consequential seniority to the promoted candidates of SC/STs.
- In this case, the controversy which goes in appeals about the reservation in promotion in the public jobs of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes for the post of Assistant Civil Engineer in Public Works, Department, Government of Uttarakhand.
- The Bench passed the ruling in a batch of appeals challenging High Court verdicts concerning reservation for SC/ST candidates in the Public Works Department of Uttarakhand.
- On September 5, 2012, the Uttarakhand Government decided that all posts in public services in the State would be filled up without providing any reservation to SC/ST candidates.
- A challenge made to this decision saw the High Court set aside the September 5, 2012 proceedings in April 2019.
- On review, the High Court, however, admitted that it had made an error. While it opined that Article 16 (4A) was only an enabling provision, it also directed the State Government to collect quantifiable data regarding the inadequacy of the representation of SC/ST candidates in Government services.
- The High Court opined that this data would enable the State Government to take a considered decision on providing or not providing reservations.
- A challenge to his verdict, and other High Court verdicts touching upon similar issues, were disposed of by the Supreme Court together.
- Arguments contended that there is no fundamental right to claim reservations in appointments or promotions to public posts were made by Senior Advocate Ranjit Kumar for some of the appellants, as well as Senior Counsel Mukul Rohatgi and PS Narsimha for the Uttarakhand government.
- Appearing for several reserved category employees, Senior Counsel Kapil Sibal, Dushyant Dave, and Colvin Gonsalves took a contrary stance, arguing that the State cannot refuse to collect quantifiable data regarding the adequacy or inadequacy of representation of the SC/ST candidates in public services.
- They submitted that there is an obligation on the State to provide reservations in promotions for the upliftment of the members of the SC/ST as mandated by Article 16(4) and 16(4-A) of the Constitution.
- It was argued that the right to equality of persons belonging to SC/ST communities cannot be defeated by the State Government only by not discharging its constitutional obligation of implementing Article 16(4) and 16(4-A) of the Constitution.
- Whether the state is bound to provide reservation in a public post to the candidates of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled tribes?
- whether the decision by the State Government not to provide reservations can be only based on quantifiable data relating to the adequacy of representation of persons belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
- Article 16(1) of The Constitution Of India 1949
The main object of Article 16 is to create a Constitutional right to equality of opportunity and employment in public offices.
- Article 16(4) of The Constitution Of India 1949
Under this Article, the state may make a 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 public services under the state.
- Article 16(4A) of The Constitution Of India 1949
This article allows the State to provide reservations to an SC/ST in matters of promotion, as long as the State believes that the SC/ST is not adequately represented in government services.
- Section 3(1) of The National Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993
It states that the Central Government shall constitute a body to be known as the National Commission for Backward Classes to exercise the powers conferred on, and to perform the functions assigned to, it under this Act.
- 1968 – P. Rajendran Vs. State of Madras
In this case, the Supreme Court justified the reservation of seats made caste wise.
- 1992– Indra Sawhney and Ors. V. Union of India
In this case, the nine-judge bench ruled that Article 16(4) of the Constitution on India is only confined to the reservation in the appointment and does not extend to the reservation in promotion.
- 1996 – Ajit Singh v. the State of Punjab
In this case, the Catch-up Rule was introduced as when the reservation in promotion was recognized by the 77th Amendment, a situation started arising that when the candidates of the reserved category were promoted over the general class, they become their senior due to promotion. In this case, the court held that the candidates who were promoted after SC/ST candidates will regain their seniority over them who were promoted earlier.
- 1996 – S Vinod Kumar v. Union of India
In this case, it was held that relaxations in the qualifying marks for reservation in the promotion were not permissible in Article 16(4) and the reservation is subject to the administrative efficiency under Article 335.
- 2006 – M Nagaraj v. Union of India
In this case, the above amendments i.e. 71st, 81st, 82nd, and 85th was challenged by the petitioner, and the Supreme Court upheld them and hence, declared them constitutional. But the Supreme Court introduced certain conditions upon the matter of reservation i.e. of backwardness, inadequacy in representation in public employment, and administrative efficiency.
- 2010- Mukund Kumar Shrivastava v. State of U.P.
In this case, it was upheld the validity of Rule 8-A of the Uttar Pradesh Servants Government Seniority Rules, 1991 which dealt with consequential seniority of persons belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
- 2016- Suresh Chand Gautam v. the State of U.P.
In this case, it was held that the State Government should collect quantifiable data based on which a decision to provide reservation should be taken. They placed reliance on the judgment of this Court in the M. Nagaraj case.
- 2018 – Jarnail Singh v. Lacchmi Narain Gupta
In this case, the principle of exclusion of the creamy layer was introduced where the people of SC/STs who belong to the creamy layer in their community will not be granted a reservation. And held that the state would not have to consider the backwardness criteria for the promotion as it is would not have to collect any quantifiable data for it but still have to apply the inadequately represented criteria.
- 2019 – B K Pavitra and Ors Vs The Union of India and Ors
In this case, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of the Karnataka
Reservation Act, 2018 by stating that the state was successful in demonstrating that the people of SC/STs were not adequately represented and the statute provided the consequential seniority.
- SC ruled that the states are not obligated to make reservations on appointments and promotions and there is no fundamental right to claim reservations in promotions in public posts.
- It was held that no mandamus can be issued by the Court to the State to collect quantifiable data relating to the 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.”
- Further, it was held that the collection of data by the State Government is only made for justifying the reservation in the matter of appointment and promotion for the public post as per Article 16(4) and 16(4A) of the Indian Constitution.
- This case highlighted the issue regarding the adequacy and inadequacy of representation of scheduled caste and scheduled tribes in government service.
- Further highlighted whether the state be compelled to make a reservation for SC/ST members in a public post or not to which the supreme court emphasized that the State cannot be compelled to make reservations, given that provisions concerning the same under Articles 16 and 16A of the Constitution are enabling provisions.
In a country of parliamentary democracy, even the Constitution of India can be amended several times. The judgment says that the state will also have to justify its decision to provide reservations if it is challenged in a court of law. However, the state government also needs to collect data while making provisions for reservation and not when the government decides not to provide quotas. If the government at the Centre has actual concern for SC/STs, it can amend the Constitution. If the argument is that it is not binding on the state to give reservation, it must be noted that when reservation rights are included in Part III as Fundamental Rights, it is the binding on the state to ensure reservation to the underprivileged. This leading case has interpreted Articles 16 (4) and 16(4A) only as enabling provisions which means that these provisions empower the state to direct the state government to grant reservations at a specific level to specific communities is a dangerous move in itself.