The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has asked all departments of the Central Government to collect the data on inadequacy of representation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes before implementing the policy of reservation in promotion in government offices.


Reservation in government jobs

  • Article 16(4) of the Constitution provides for reservations to backward classes in Central/State government jobs.
  • Accordingly of Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) were initially provided reservations, which was later extended to Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and Economically Weaker Sections (EWS).


Judgements in respect of reservation in promotions

  • Indra Sawhney Judgement (1992) – In November 1992, in the Indra Sawhney Judgement, popularly known as Mandal Judgement, a nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court decided that Article 16(4) of the Constitution did not provide for reservation in promotions.
  • 77th Amendment Act – To override the judgement and enable reservations in promotions, the Parliament, through the 77th Constitutional Amendment Act 1995, added a new clause in Article 16 i.e. Article 16(4A), making provision for reservation in promotions for SCs/STs.
  • 85th Amendment Act – The 85th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2001 was brought in for also giving consequential seniority to SCs and STs in matter of reservation in promotion.
  • M. Nagraj v/s Union of India Judgement (2006) – The 77th and 85th Amendment in the Constitution were challenged by the General Category employees before a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court. The Court clubbed all these petitions challenging these amendments and gave its verdict in the case of M. Nagraj v/s Union of India in 2006. In its verdict, the Court validated Parliament’s decision to extend reservations for SCs/STs to include promotions (reservation in promotion).
    • Conditions for Providing Reservation in Promotions – In the M. Nagraj Judgement, the Court laid down three conditions that the State must meet prior to granting a SC/ST a reservation in promotion.
        • First, the State must show the backwardness of the class.
        • Second, it must show that the class is inadequately represented in the position/service for which reservations in promotion will be granted.
        • Finally, it must show that the reservations would not affect the overall efficiency of administration
  • Jarnail Singh Judgement (2018) –
      • SC modified the Nagaraj judgement to the extent that State need not produce quantifiable data to prove the “backwardness” of SCs and STs before granting reservations.
      • The court cited the judgement of 9-judge bench in the Indira Sawhney case which had held that the “test or requirement of social and educational backwardness cannot be applied to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, who indubitably fall within the expression ‘backward class of citizens’”.
      • This judgement was a boost to efforts to provide “accelerated promotion with consequential seniority” for SC/ST members in government services.


Issue of “inadequacy of representation” of classes

  • In Nagraj judgement, the Supreme Court held that reservations in promotions can be granted if a backward class is “inadequately represented“.
  • However, there remained confusion on how “inadequacy of representation” must be measured for providing reservations in promotions to various backward classes.


2022 Judgement by the Supreme Court

  • A group of petitioners, including the Central Government and a few State Governments, had sought more clarity mainly on the issue of how the “adequacy of representation” must be determined.
  • In January 2022, the Supreme Court held that collection of data to determine the inadequacy of representation of Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes in Government jobs is necessary to grant reservation in promotions.
  • The Court held that “cadre” and not class, group or the entire service as the unit for the purpose of collection of quantifiable data for giving promotion quotas.
  • However, the Court has left it to the States and Central Government to assess the inadequacy of representation of SCs/STs to promotional posts taking into account relevant factors.