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Top court paves way for quota in job promotions 

New Delhi, September 26

Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes candidates can be granted reservation in promotions in public employment if “quantifiable data” showed that they were inadequately represented in the cadre in which the promotion was contemplated, the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday.

Rejecting petitions seeking to send its 2006 verdict in the 

M Nagaraj vs Union of India case to a seven-judge Bench for reconsideration, a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said the concept of creamy layer could be applied to SC/ST reservation by the government or courts.

The Bench, however, said the Nagaraj verdict was incorrect in holding that there was need for quantifiable data to prove backwardness of SC/ST communities, saying once a caste of tribe was declared SC or ST under Article 341 or Article 342, their backwardness had to be presumed. To that extent, the Nagaraj verdict was against the court’s ruling in the Mandal case, it said.

“Thus, we may make it clear that quantifiable data shall be collected by the state, on the parameters as stipulated in Nagaraj (case) on the inadequacy of representation, which can be tested by the courts. We may further add that the data would be relatable to the cadre concerned,” said the Bench, which also included Justices Kurian Joseph, Rohinton F Nariman, SK Kaul and Indu Malhotra.

While upholding the validity of 77th, 81st, 82nd and 85th Constitutional Amendments in the Nagaraj case, the SC had in 2006 stipulated that in each case the state will have to show existence of “compelling reasons”, including “backwardness”, “inadequacy of representation” and overall “administrative efficiency” before making provisions for reservation.

It had said if a state government wanted to make provisions for reservation to SCs/STs in promotion, the state concerned was needed to collect quantifiable data showing backwardness of the class and inadequacy of representation of that class.

Citing the ruling in the Nagaraj’s case, the SC and several HCs had struck down decisions of various states and departments for reservation in promotions. But now the court has said backwardness has to be presumed in case of SC/ST candidates but insisted that inadequacy in representation in a particular cadre has to be shown through quantifiable data.

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