Can't lay down new yardstick: Supreme Court on reservation in promotion to SCs/STs in government jobs – Deccan Herald

The Supreme Court on Friday declined to lay down yardstick for determining adequacy of representation but made it clear that State is obligated to collect quantifiable data, before providing for reservation in promotion for SC/ST employees.
A bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao, Sanjiv Khanna and B R Gavai also held that collection of information regarding inadequacy of representation of SCs and STs cannot be with reference to the entire service or ‘class’/‘group’ but it should be relatable to the grade/category of posts.
The bench said said, “Determination of inadequate representation of SCs and STs in services under a State is left to the discretion of the State, as it depends upon myriad factors which this court cannot envisage.”
Moreover, it would curtail States’ discretion, so no yardstick can be laid down by this court for determining the adequacy of representation of SCs and STs, the bench said.
The bench, however, said that collection of quantifiable data is mandatory for assessment of inadequacy of representation after a periodic review. 
“Data collected to determine inadequacy of representation needs to be reviewed periodically. The period for review should be reasonable and is left to the Government to set out,” the bench said.
The court declined Attorney General K K Venugopal’s plea to hold that the proportion of SCs and STs to the population of India should be the test for determining inadequacy of representation in promotional posts. 
“We are not persuaded to express any opinion on this aspect. It is for the State to assess the inadequacy of representation, by taking into account relevant factors,” the bench said.
The court rejected a contention that lion’s share of reservation for members of SCs and STs accrued to the benefit of a select few within these categories.
“We are not inclined to express any view on discontinuation of reservations in totality, which is completely within the domain of the legislature and the executive,” it said.
The top court also declared the M Nagaraj judgement which had laid down conditions like collections of quantifiable data, adequacy of representation and overall impact on efficiency of administration, for granting reservations in promotion in government jobs, would be applied prospectively. Otherwise it would be detrimental to the interests of a number of civil servants and would have an effect of unsettling the seniority of individuals, it added.
The top court also declared the B K Pavitra II judgment in 2019, passed by a bench led by Justice D Y Chandrachud, is contrary to law laid down in 2006 judgment in the M Nagaraj case and 2018 judgement in Jarnail Singh case. The Pavitra II judgement had allowed collection of data on the basis of group and not on cadre.
“Collection of quantifiable data… is a basic requirement, as laid down by this court in Nagaraj case. The unit for the purpose is a cadre, according to Nagaraj and Jarnail Singh. The entire service cannot be taken to be a unit and treated as a cadre,” the bench said.
Pavitra II had then upheld a 2018 law by Karnataka to provide consequential seniority to reserved category employees. 
The top court’s Friday judgement would reopen the legal questions with regard to reservation in promotion in Karnataka.
The Centre and several States had asked the top court to settle the confusion with regard to quota norms.
The top court put the matters related to different States and Centre’s plea against the various High Court’s judgement quashing the decision on reservation in promotion, for consideration on February 24, 2022. 
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