Article 14 of the Constitution guarantees equality before law and equal protection of laws to everyone. Similarly, Article 16(1) and 16(2) assure citizens equality of opportunity in employment or appointment to any government office. Article 15(1) generally prohibits any discrimination against any citizen on the grounds of religion, caste, sex or place of birth. Articles 15(4) and 16(4) state that these equality provisions do not prevent the government from making special provisions in matters of admission to educational institutions or jobs in favour of backward classes, particularly the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and the Scheduled Tribes (STs). Article 16(4A) allows reservations to SCs and STs in promotions, as long as the government believes that they are not adequately represented in government services.
A five-judge apex court bench, as early as 1962 in the M.R. Balaji v. State of Mysore had ruled that Article 15(4) is an “enabling provision”, meaning that “it does not impose an obligation, but merely leaves it to the discretion of the appropriate government to take suitable action, if necessary”.
Five years later, in 1967, another five-judge bench in C.A. Rajendran v. Union of India reiterated this position, holding that the government is under no constitutional duty to provide reservations for SCs and STs, either at the initial stage of recruitment or at the stage of promotion. The apex court has now re-iterated that Articles 16(4) and 16(4A) do not confer any fundamental rights to claim reservations in promotion. It is for the state government to decide whether reservations are required for appointment and promotions to public posts, it said.
“It is settled law that the State Government cannot be directed to provide reservations for appointment in public posts. Similarly, the State is not bound to make reservations for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in matters of promotions,” it observed. However, if the state government does want to exercise this discretion and provide reservations, it would have to first collect quantifiable data showing inadequacy of representation of that class in public services.
It further ruled that since Article 16(4) and 16 (4A) do not provide a fundamental right, courts cannot issue a direction to the state government to provide reservations. It clarified that since the state government had decided not to provide reservations, it did not have to collect quantifiable data at all.
1. The recent SC ruling can be summarized as
(a) State governments have no responsibility to collect quantifiable data if they do not want to provide reservation in the first place.
(b) Decision to provide reservation in promotion is a subjective one and the courts cannot direct state governments to provide for the same.
(c) Both (a) and (b).
(d) Nether (a) nor (b).
2. For Constitutional Jurisprudence, what can be concluded from the above?
(a) Only the SC can harmoniously resolve conflicts between Fundamental Rights
(b) The state cannot violate fundamental rights of individuals.
(c) Both (a) and (b)
(d) None of the above
3. The Central Govt. wants to provide reservation in promotion to SC and ST across the country as a Fundamental Right. Advice.
(a) The Govt cannot do anything as SC has already decided the matter.
(b) The Govt needs to amend Article 14 and provide reservation as an exception to it.
(c) The Govt needs to amend Article 16 and change it from an enabling provision to a mandatory one.
(d) The Govt cannot do anything as it will violate article 14 and 15 of the constitution.
4. The Prayag Group Pvt. Ltd. is the biggest company of India. It is mainly represented by Gujarati upper caste Hindus. A petition is filed before the SC to direct the Reliance group to ensure reservation in promotion to the vulnerable sections of society. Decide.
(a) The petition will be allowed as it is paramount that members of Indian society should be represented in the biggest company of India.
(b) The petition will be rejected as Reliance Group is not a State and Fundamental rights will not apply to it.
(c) The petition will be rejected as Reservation is promotion is not a fundamental right.
(d) The petition will be allowed as Mr Ambani is a true patriot and will support assertive action.
5. State A wants to provide reservations to SC and ST in promotion. Counsel them based on the SC ruling.
(a) State A cannot provide reservation in promotion as it violates Article 14 and 15.
(b) State A need to first collect quantifiable data showing inadequacy of representation of that class in public services.
(c) State A need to first enact a legislation that is assented by the President of India to enable them to provide reservation in promotions.
(d) State A cannot provide as it needs the Central Govt. to make a constitutional amendment for that to happen.
1. Ans. (c) Both (a) & (b) are correct as the SC held that reservation in promotion is not a fundamental right and also the state has no responsibility to collect quantifiable data to ascertain the need of it either.
2. Ans. (c) The SC is the final adjudicating body of the country as per the constitution and therefore can deliberate upon the matters relating to Fundamental Rights. Additionally, the State cannot make laws that violate fundamental rights of the individuals. Thus both (a) & (b) are correct.
3. Ans. (c) As interpreted by the SC, the law for reservation in promotion is not a fundamental right. To make a provision for the same the government has to amend the constitution to provide for the same. Option (b) is not correct as reservations are already an exception to Article 14 which has been provided for under article 16 already. Option (c) is more specific as it deals with reservations under which reservation in promotion is already an enabling provision.
4. Ans. (b) The petition will be rejected as Fundamental Rights are only available against the State. Prayag group is a Private Limited company and fundamental rights cannot be guaranteed against private individuals or companies.
5. Ans. (b) As reservation in promotion is an enabling fundamental right, prior to enabling the same, a state has to collect and provide quantifiable data to establish the need for the same. Option (a) is opposite of what the passage is trying to say. Option (c) and option (d) are out of scope.