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Treat cadre as unit for collecting quantifiable data to determine inadequacy of SC/ST representation, says SC

Satya Prakash
New Delhi, January 28

The Supreme Court on Friday ruled that cadre has to be the unit for collecting quantifiable data to determine inadequacy of representation of members of Schedule Castes and Scheduled Tribes for extending the benefit of reservation in promotions to them in government jobs.

Maintaining that it was meaningless to collect data on the entire service, a three-judge Bench led by Justice NL Rao said the states were obligated to collect quantifiable data regarding adequacy of representation of SCs/STs in public employment.

The Bench ndash; which also included Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice BR Gavai ndash; however, said courts cannot lay down any yardstick to determine inadequacy of representation of SCs and STs in government services.

“Collection of quantifiable data for determining the inadequacy of representation of SCs and STs is a basic requirement for providing reservation in promotions,” the top said, reiterating its verdict in M Nagraj case.

“For the purpose of collection of quantifiable data for providing reservation in promotions, the entire service cannot be taken to be a unit and treated as a cadre,hellip;” it added.

“The State should justify reservation in promotions with respect to the cadre to which promotion is made. Taking into account the data pertaining to a ‘group’, which would be an amalgamation of certain cadres in a service, would not give the correct picture of the inadequacy of representation of SCs and STs in the cadre in relation to which reservation in promotions is sought to be made,” the Bench said.

The top court ndash; which had reserved its verdict on the issue October 26 last year—said a review has to be conducted regarding data for the purpose of determining inadequacy of representation for providing reservation in promotion. The period of review should be reasonable, it noted.

The verdict can potentially lead to another round of litigation on the contentious issue as the Bench left it to the government to lay down the yardstick to determine inadequacy of representation of SCs and STs in government services and the period of review.

The top court fixed February 24 to take up individual petitions, including contempt petitions against senior government officials, which will be decided on the basis of the constitutional principles laid down by it on Friday.

It declared that the conclusions in BK Pavitra (II) case decided in 2019 approving the collection of data on the basis of groups and not cadres was contrary to the verdict in Jarnail Singh’s case (2018).

The verdict came on a batch of petitions on the issue of reservation in promotions to the employees belonging to SC and ST given by the Central Government, various PSUs and state governments in public employment.

While upholding validity of the 77th, 81st, 82nd and 85th Amendments on various aspects of reservation in promotions, the SC had in M Nagraj case in 2006 stipulated that in each case State will have to show the existence of “compelling reasons”, including “inadequacy of representation” and overall “administrative efficiency” before providing reservation in promotions.

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