“Please do not argue on principles, Show us the proper data. How do you justify reservations in promotions and what exercise have you undertaken to justify your decision,” the SC bench said. The apex court called it “disordering” that the central government did not discontinue reservation in promotion for people belonging to SC/STs even after their figures exceeded the upper ceiling of 15% and 7.5% respectively, of positions in some classes of union government jobs.
A bench headed by Justice L Nageswara Rao and comprising justices Sanjiv Khanna and B.R.Gavai is hearing a number of petitions relating to reservation in promotions as several appointments have been stalled due to ambiguities in the norms for applying reservation in promotions. L. Nageswara Rao said it would decide the contentious issue of whether the reservation should be there on the basis of proportion or adequacy of representation, as ordered in the Nagraj case in 2006, for granting reservation in promotion for SC/ST employees. Additional Solicitor General Balbir Singh, representing the Centre, submitted that is why adequacy of representation was stated in the Nagaraj Judgment, and not the proportionality test.
In its 2006 ruling in the case M Nagaraj Vs. Union of India, the court had held that the State is “not bound to make a reservation for SC/ST in a matter of promotions. However, if they wish to exercise their discretion and make such a provision, the State has to collect quantifiable data showing the backwardness of the class and the inadequacy of representation in public employment… It is made clear that even if the State has compelling reasons, as stated above, the State will have to see that its reservation provision does not lead to excessiveness so as to breach the ceiling limit of 50% or obliterate the creamy layer or extend the reservation indefinitely”.
"Please do not argue on principles. Show us the data. How do you justify reservations in promotions and what exercise have you undertaken to justify the decisions. Please take instructions and let us know that," said the bench which also comprised justices Sanjiv Khanna and BR Gavai. At the outset, Attorney General KK Venugopal, appearing for the centre, referred to the Supreme Court judgements right from the Indra Sawhney verdict of 1992, popularly known as Mandal Commission case to the Jarnail Singh verdict of 2018.The Mandal judgement had ruled out quota in promotions. While hearing a clutch of petitions addressing numerous legal concerns on the subject, the bench sought to know from the central government whether it even carried out the exercise of collecting data to ascertain adequacy or inadequacy of SCs and STs before promoting them.