Quota Norms For Promotions


    In News

    • Recently, the Central government submitted data regarding Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes quota in promotions in the Supreme Court (SC).

    Government’s Stand

    • According to the data the total number in Group A, B and C categories in 19 ministries is 15.34% for SCs and 6.18% for STs.
    • The figure includes reserved category candidates who are selected on merit.
    • Reservation in promotions had been adequately covered by a constitution bench ruling in the 2006 V. Nagaraj case, yet there was confusion on the guidelines to be followed.
    • The government said that seventy-five years of Independence have not been able to bring members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes on par with the forward classes of society.

    Supreme Court’s Stand

    • In the data given by the Government, some classes have more than what has been prescribed.
    • Data produced by the government showed that representation in Group A is low, as if the government is ensuring adequate representation by adjusting in Group B and C, “which is not fair”.

    Arguments Against Quota in Promotions

    • Not a Fundamental Right: The Supreme Court reiterated in a judgment that reservation in promotion in public posts cannot be claimed as a fundamental right.
    • Impact on Efficiency: Promotions to SCs and STs during appointments to services and promotions may make it difficult to maintain the efficiency of administration.
    • Redundancy of Reservation: The SCs and STs are getting the benefits of reservation in the appointments to various servicers. Therefore, it is undesirable and inefficient to provide quota in promotions for key posts.
    • Not a Compulsion for Government: The Constitution empowers the State to make reservation in matters of appointment and promotion in favour of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes only “if in the opinion of the State they are not adequately represented in the services of the State”.

    Need for Quota in Promotions

    • Representation in Higher Echelons: The main reason for giving promotions in promotions is that there are very few SC/ST candidates in the higher echelons of government.
    • Proper Access to Opportunity: Centuries of discrimination and prejudice suffered by the SCs and STs in a feudal, caste-oriented societal structure poses real barriers of access to opportunity.
    • Constitutional Mandate: Constitution mandates realisation of substantive equality in the engagement of the fundamental rights with the directive principles
    • Special Measures Needed: Unless special measures are adopted for the SCs and STs in promotions also, the mandate of the Constitution for the consideration of their claim to appointment will remain illusory.
    • False Notion of Efficiency: The Constitution does not define what the framers meant by the phrase efficiency of administration. It is a stereotypical assumption that the promotees drawn from the SCs and STs are not efficient or that efficiency is reduced by appointing them.

    Constitutional Provisions for Promotion in Reservation

    • Article 16 (4): 
      • Provides that the State can make any provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class of citizens who, in the opinion of the state, are not adequately represented in the services under the State.
    • Article 16 (4A): 
      • Provides that the State can make any provision for reservation in matters of promotion in favour of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes if they are not adequately represented in the services under the State.
      • It was inserted by the 77th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1995.
    • Article 16(4B): 
      • Added by the 81st Constitutional Amendment Act, 2000 which enabled the unfilled SC/ST quota of a particular year to be carried forward to the next year.
    • Article 335: 
      • It recognises that special measures need to be adopted for considering the claims of SCs and STs to services and posts, in order to bring them at par.
    • 82nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 2000: 
      • Inserted a condition at the end of Article 335 that enables the state to make any provision in favour of the members of the SC/STs for relaxation in qualifying marks in any examination.


    Image Courtesy: IE 

    Way Ahead

    • There is an urgent need for the Supreme Court to give concrete basis for the SC, ST and OBC to fill up vacancies.
    • The government can come up with certain guidelines to accommodate demands of SC/ST quota in promotions.

    Previous Cases

    • Mandal judgment/ Indra Sawhney case 1992:
      • The Supreme Court’s Indra Sawhney vs Union of India(1992) has been hailed as a landmark judgment as it upheld reservations for Other Backward Classes (OBCs). However, this judgment also held that reservations in appointments, under Article 16(4) of the constitution, don’t apply to promotions.
      • The Supreme Court upheld the Mandal Commission’s 27 percent quota for backward classes, as well as the principle that the combined scheduled-caste, scheduled-tribe, and backward-class beneficiaries should not exceed 50 percent of India’s population. At the same time, the court also struck down the government notification reserving 10% government jobs for economically backward classes among the higher castes in 1992. In this case, the Supreme Court stated that;
      • Backward Classes of the Citizens of in Article 16(4) can be identified on the basis of caste and not only on the economic basis.
      • Reservation shall not exceed 50%. The court said that this rule should be applied every year. However, it may be relaxed in favor of people from far-flung and remote areas because of their peculiar conditions. However, extreme caution should be exercised in doing so.
      • Carry forward rule is valid but it is subject to 50%
      • There should be NO reservation in the Promotions.
    • 77th and 85th Constitutional Amendment Acts:
      • The Constitution (77th Amendment) Act, 1995: 
        • According to this Act, the Government has decided to continue the existing policy of reservation in promotion for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. 
        • The Constitution (77thAmendment) Act, 1995 was passed by parliament, inserting Article 16(4A) which allows the State to provide reservations to SCs/STs in matters of promotion, as long as the State believes that this category of the marginalized populations –the SCs and STs – aren’t adequately represented.
      • The Constitution (85th Amendment) Act, 2001: Provided for consequential seniority? in the case of promotion by the virtue of rule of reservation for the government servants belonging to the SCs and STs with retrospective effect from June 1995.
    • Nagraj Case:
      • According to it, the government cannot introduce a quota in promotion for its SC/ST employees unless they prove that the particular Dalit community is backward, inadequately represented and such a reservation in promotion would not affect the overall efficiency of public administration. 
      • The opinion of the government should also be based on quantifiable data. 
      • It was made clear that even if the state has compelling reasons, the state will have to see that it’s 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.
      • In the 2006 judgment, the apex court had ruled that the government can provide reservation in promotions to SCs and STs provided it was justified through quantifiable data collected by the State on inadequate representation of the two communities in various posts.
      • The State is not bound to make reservations for the SCs and STs in promotions. But, if it seeks to do so, it must collect quantifiable data on three facets:
        • The backwardness of the class.
        • The inadequacy of the representation of that class in public employment.
        • The general efficiency of service as mandated by Article 335 would not be affected.

    Sources: IE + TH