The Supreme Court declined to establish a criterion for determining sufficient representation on Friday, but the supreme court held that the state must collect measurable data before granting reservation in promotion to SC/ST personnel. A bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao, Sanjiv Khanna, and B R Gavai further ruled that information of inadequacy of representation of SCs and STs shall be collected concerning the grade/category of postings rather than the entire service or 'class'/'group.'
"Determination of inadequate representation of SCs and STs in state services is left to the discretion of the state, as it depends on a variety of factors that this court cannot anticipate," the bench added. Furthermore, it would limit states' discretion, therefore the bench stated that no yardstick can be established by this court for measuring the adequacy of representation of SCs and STs. On the other hand, the bench stated that collecting measurable data is required for assessing the inadequacy of representation following a periodic review.
The court rejected Attorney General K K Venugopal's request that the percentage of SCs and STs in India's population be used to determine the inadequacy of representation in promoting positions. "We are not compelled to take a stand on this issue. It is the responsibility of the state to determine the inadequacy of representation by considering relevant circumstances "The bench remarked.
The court dismissed the argument that the majority of reservation benefits for members of SCs and STs went to a select few within these groups. "We are not inclined to give any opinion on the whole cessation of reservations", adding to that "this is entirely within the jurisdiction of the legislative and the government."
The court also declared that the M Nagaraj judgment, which established conditions for granting reservations in promotion in government jobs, such as the collection of quantifiable data, adequacy of representation, and overall impact on the efficiency of administration, would be applied prospectively. Otherwise, it would be harmful to the interests of several government workers and have the impact of upsetting individual seniority, according to the report.
The top court further held that the B K Pavitra II verdict, issued in 2019 by a bench led by Justice D Y Chandrachud, violates the law established in the M Nagaraj case in 2006 and the Jarnail Singh case in 2018.
The Pavitra II decision enabled data to be collected based on the group rather than the cadre. The bench stated, "Collection of quantifiable data... is a basic condition, as laid down by this court in the Nagaraj case; the unit for the purpose is a cadre, according to Nagaraj and Jarnail Singh; the entire service cannot be regarded to be a unit and treated as a cadre," After that, Pavitra II supported a 2018 Karnataka law granting reserved category employees’ consequential seniority.
The Supreme Court's decision on Friday would reignite legal problems over reservation in promotions in Karnataka. The Centre and several states have petitioned the Supreme Court to clarify the quota rules. On February 24, 2022, the Supreme Court will review the various States and the Centre's appeals against various High Court judgments quashing the decision on a reservation in promotion.