New Delhi: The Supreme Court has said that reservation and promotion are not fundamental rights guaranteed to SC/STs and no court can force a state government to pass an order to this effect. A bench, comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and Hemant Gupta, said a state government is not bound to make reservations. “There is no fundamental right which inheres in an individual to claim reservation in promotions. No mandamus can be issued by the Court directing the State Government to provide reservations,” it said.

Citing the necessity of relevant data collection regarding the representation of SC/STs in public jobs, the apex court emphasised this exercise is pre-requisite to begin reservation. And this data collection exercise is not required when the state government decided not to provide reservations.

The top court also clarified that a state government is bound to collect data regarding inadequacy of representation of SCs/STs in government services when it wants to provide reservation but otherwise. It also observed that the state cannot be issued directions to provide reservations for appointment in public posts. “The State is not bound to make a reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in matters of promotions”, added the court.

However, if a situation arises where such provisions were to be introduced, then the state government concerned should collect quantifiable data, which exhibits inadequacy of representation of that class in public services. And, this data would have to be brought on record before the court when a challenge is laid to the reservation policies.

The court observed, “Not being bound to provide reservations in promotions, the State is not required to justify its decision on the basis of quantifiable data, showing that there is an adequate representation of members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in State services. Even if the under-representation of Scheduled Castes and Schedules Tribes in public services is brought to the notice of this Court, no mandamus can be issued by this Court to the State Government to provide reservation.”

The ruling of the top court came as it was hearing a clutch of petitions connected with reservation to Scs and STs in promotions in the posts of Assistant Engineer (Civil) in Public Works Department, Government of Uttarakhand, where the government had decided against reservations. But, the High Court asked the state to first collect quantifiable data connected with the representation of SCs/STs, and decide on the matter.

(With IANS Inputs)