State is not bound to make SC/ST reservation in matters of Promotion; SC refuses to direct the Govt. to collect data for enabling reservation [Read Judgment]

State is not bound to make SC/ST reservation in matters of Promotion; SC refuses to direct the Govt. to collect data for enabling reservation [Read Judgment]


It has been postulated that the State is not bound to make reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in matter of promotions. Therefore, there is no duty. In such a situation, to issue a mandamus to collect the data would tantamount to asking the authorities whether there is ample data to frame a rule or regulation,  the Bench said.


Supreme Court, observing that there is no constitutional duty for the state to make reservation for SC/ST in matters of promotion, has refused to direct the Government to collect and gather the necessary data for the purpose of taking a decision as regards the promotion and consequential fixation of seniority. Apex Court Bench comprising of Justices Dipak Misra and Prafulla C. Pant in Suresh Chand Gautam vs. State of Uttar Pradesh observed that if such a direction is granted, it would tantamount to a step towards framing of a rule or a regulation for the purpose of reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in matter of promotions, which is not permissible.

State is not bound to make reservation for SCs/STs in matters of promotion

Referring to M. Nagaraj & others v. Union of India & others, the Bench said that the State is not bound to make reservation for SCs/STs in matters of promotion. However, if the State wishes to exercise the discretion and make such provision, it has to collect quantifiable data showing backwardness of the class and inadequacy of representation of that class in public employment in addition to compliance with Article 335. The expression of the opinion clearly demonstrates that the regard being had to the enabling provisions of Articles 16(4-A) and (4-B), the State is not bound to make reservation, the Bench added.

State cannot be commanded to exercise discretion

The petitioners had prayed for issuance of a direction to the State of Uttar Pradesh to collect the data as enshrined in the Constitution Bench decision in M. Nagaraj case so that benefit of reservation in promotion can be given. The Bench observed If we keenly scrutinize the relief sought, the prayer is to issue a mandamus to the State and its functionaries to carry out an exercise for the purpose of exercising a discretion. To elucidate, the discretion is to take a decision to have the reservation, and to have reservation there is a necessity for collection of data in accordance with the principles stated in M. Nagaraj (supra) as the same is the condition precedent. A writ of mandamus is sought to collect material or data which is in the realm of condition precedent for exercising a discretion which flows from the enabling constitutional provision. Direction of this nature, in our considered opinion, would not come within the principle of exercise of power coupled with duty.

No constitutional obligation to make reservation in promotion.

The Court also observed that the language employed in M. Nagaraj  case indicates that the State is not bound to make reservation in promotion and there is no constitutional obligation.  The Court added that though in certain decisions, directions have been issued for framing of guidelines or the court has itself framed guidelines for sustaining certain rights of women, children or prisoners or under-trial prisoners, but those category of cases falls in a different compartment and are in different sphere than what is envisaged in Article 16 (4-A) and 16 (4-B) whose constitutional validity have been upheld by the Constitution Bench with certain qualifiers. The Bench further said “They have been regarded as enabling constitutional provisions. Additionally it has been postulated that the State is not bound to make reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in matter of promotions. Therefore, there is no duty. In such a situation, to issue a mandamus to collect the data would tantamount to asking the authorities whether there is ample data to frame a rule or regulation. This will be in a way, entering into the domain of legislation, for it is a step towards commanding to frame legislation or a delegated legislation for reservation”

Read the Judgment here.