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Case Reviews, The Law

Mukesh Kumar and Ors. Vs. The State of Uttarakhand and Ors. 2020 (1) SLJ350(SC)

The case dealt with a number of appeals pertaining to reservation in promotion of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to the post of Assistant Engineer (Civil) in Public Works Department of the Government of Uttarakhand.

Relevant Facts 

  • On 06.07.2011, in Vinod Prakash Nautiyal and Ors. v. State of Uttarakhand and Ors (1) the court directed the Government of Uttarakhand to constitute a committee for collection of quantifiable data regarding the backwardness of the reserved communities in the State of Uttarakhand and the inadequacy of their representation in public posts.
  • On 05.09.2012, the State Government decided that all posts in public services in the State shall be filled up without providing any reservations to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
  • On 01.04.2019, the High Court disposed the writ petition and struck down the proceeding dated 05.09.2012 relying on Indra Sawhney v. Union of India and Ors. (2) and Jarnail Singh and Ors. v. Lachhmi Narain Gupta and Ors. (3) This judgment of the High Court was challenged in an appeal. 
  • On 15.07.2019, the High court disposed a writ petition filed by Vinod Kumar and three others of Scheduled Castes working in the Public Works Department, Government of Uttarakhand directing the State Government to implement reservations in promotion by promoting only members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in future vacancies to maintain the quota earmarks. This order was also challenged in an appeal.
  • On 15.11.2019 the High court disposed application for review of the judgment dated 01.04.2019 filed by the State of Uttarakhand and held that even though the state is not obliged to provide reservation in promotions but could be provided by collecting data regarding lack of representation of reserved communities. 
  • A number of appeals were filed aggrieved by the order dated 15.11.2019.

Key Issues

  1. Whether the State Government is bound to make reservations in public posts?
  2. Whether the decision by the State Government to not provide reservations can be only on the basis of quantifiable data relating to adequacy of representation of persons belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes?

Rules Applicable

  1. Section 3(7) of the Uttar Pradesh Public Services (Reservation for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes) Act, 1994 (for short “the 1994 Act”)
  2. Rule 8-A of the Uttar Pradesh Servants Government Seniority Rules, 1991 (for short “the Seniority Rules”)
  3. Article 16(4) and 16(4-A) of the Indian Constitution 

Arguments of the Appellants 

  1. Mandated by Article 16(4) and 16(4-A) of the Constitution of India to the State to provide reservations in promotions.
  2. The state might defeat the right to equality it fails in discharging constitutional obligation. 
  3. Since the report of the committee approved by the State Cabinet reflects the inadequate representation hence, the State Government was duty bound to provide reservations.
  4. The judgment of this Court in Suresh Chand Gautam v. State of U.P. (4) needs reconsideration.

Arguments of the Respondent

  1. It’s not a fundamental right to claim reservation in appointments or promotions to public posts.
  2. There is no constitutional duty on the part of the State Government to provide reservations as Article 16(4) and 16(4-A) are merely enabling provisions.
  3. The collection of data is required only to justify a decision to provide reservation and therefore isn’t a necessity.

Judgement 

  1. The decision given by the High court on 01.04.2019, quoting the decision of the state to given on 05.09.2012 as illegal was set aside. 
  2. The direction given by the High Court in its judgment dated 15.07.2019, directing all future vacancies to be filled up by promotion in the posts of Assistant Engineer, should only be from the members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes was set aside. 
  3. The Supreme Court upheld the decision in Suresh Chand Gautam v. State of U.P.

Precedents Cited

A. Ajit Singh (II) v. State of Punjab (5)

Article 16(4) and 16(4-A) do not confer fundamental right to claim reservations in promotion.

B. C.A. Rajendran v. Union of India (6)

It is settled law that the State Government cannot be directed to provide reservations for appointment in public posts.

C. M. Nagaraj and Ors. v. Union of India and Ors. (7)

Without affecting general efficiency of administration as mandated by Article 335 of the Constitution

D. Indra Sawhney v. Union of India and Ors. (8)

Article 16(4) and 16(4-A) are enabling provisions.

Analysis

Since the inadequacy of representation is a matter within the subjective satisfaction of the State, it is solely the discretion of the state to provide reservation. Also, because Article 16(4) and 16(4-A) are in the nature of enabling provisions. If the State wishes to exercise its discretion and make provisions for reservation, the collection of quantifiable data showing inadequacy of representation of that class in public services is a sine qua non, to back up or justify its decision to uplift the particular class. Therefore, there should be some sort material forming the basis of decision of the state. The Court should show due deference to the opinion of the State which does not, however, mean that the opinion formed is beyond judicial scrutiny altogether.

Conclusion

To provide reservation is the discretion of the State and to furnish it the collection of a quantifiable data to acknowledge the adequacy of representation of reserved communities is pre-requisite. Not even the court can issue mandamus to the State directing collection of data or urge the state to provide reservation. But the procedure is not entirely beyond judicial scrutiny.

(1) 2013 SCC OnLine Utt 4093
(2) (1992) Supp. 3 SCC 217
(3) (2018) 10 SCC 396
(4) (2016) 11 SCC 113
(5) (1999) 7 SCC 209
(6) (1968) 1 SCR 721
(7) (2006) 8 SCC 212
(8) AIR 1993 SC 477

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