The Supreme Court on Tuesday queried the Centre on the nature of the exercise it undertook to determine the adequacy of representation for granting reservation in promotion to SC/ST employees.
A bench headed by justice L. Nageswara Rao said it would decide the contentious issue whether reservation should be there on the basis of proportion or adequacy of representation, as ordered in Nagraj case in 2006, for granting reservations in promotion for SC/ST employees.
The bench queried the Centre’s counsel, what is the exercise done after Nagaraj to find out the inadequacies of representation? The bench reckoned if determination of adequacy of reservation were to be based on population, then it may be exposed to flaws. “The Centre should have applied mind as to what is meant by adequacy”, it added.
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.
Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan and advocate Kumar Parimal, representing one of the parties, submitted the reservation in promotion can’t be indefinite, and emphasized that after adequate representation was achieved, then why continue with it.
The bench sought to know figures to justify the continuity in reservation. Attorney General K.K. Venugopal, also representing the Centre, agreed to bring on record statistics and reasons for continuing reservations.
Another senior counsel submitted that state governments claim they haven’t undertaken the exercise as mandated in the Nagaraj case — collection of quantifiable data, adequacy of representation, and overall impact on efficiency of administration, in the backdrop of quota.
Venugopal contended that the number of posts in the cadre should be in proportion to the percentage of population and added that Article 16(1) requires equality in representation. He said: “So far as SC/STs are concerned, they may not be at disadvantage, people will not say why are you giving because that is what their population is, whether it is 17 per cent or 18 per cent”.
The apex court had said the issues connected with reservation in promotion have already been decided in Nagraj and Jarnail Singh (2018) cases and they need no further reconsideration. The Centre submitted that nearly 1,000 odd posts were lying vacant. The bench said, “Let us find out whether there is adequacy cadre wise. We should have the data with us”.
The top court is hearing a clutch of petitions in connection with reservation in promotion for SC and STs in public employment.