UPSC MAINS 2019 : Supreme Court Order on Reservation Law

Supreme Court Order on Reservation Law

 

TOPIC : Supreme Court Order on Reservation Law

Topic in Syllabus: General Studies Paper 2: Indian Polity

 

Context

Supreme Court Order on Reservation Law

The order by a two-Judge bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and U U Lalit held that a Karnataka statue allowing for reservation in promotions of SCs/STs is valid — the court had, in September 2018, held there was no need to revisit the M Nagaraj case (2006) which spoke of quantifiable data being necessary to decide on reservation.

 

Background

  • In agitations and annoyance among Dalits and Scheduled Tribes about the “next stage” in the debate over quotas, reservations in promotions have been a big bone of contention.
  • While the Central government has maintained it is now in favour of reservations in promotions, the Supreme Court had, in a series of orders over the years, verged on the conservative.

 

Court’s observations

  • Article 335 of the Constitution states that the claims of the members of the SCs and STs shall be taken into consideration, with the maintenance of efficiency of administration.
  • However, the Constitution does not define what the framers meant by the phrase efficiency of administration.
  • If the benchmark of efficiency is grounded in exclusion, the pattern of governance will be skewed against the marginalised.
  • If this benchmark is grounded in equal access, it will reflect the commitment of the Constitution on a just social order.
  • In this context, merit lies not only in performance but also in achieving goals such as promotion and achievement of substantive equality.
  • Since inclusion is inseparable from a well-governed society, there is no antithesis between administrative efficiency and the claims of the SCs and STs.
  • Inclusion along with the recognition of the nation’s plurality and diversity constitutes a valid constitutional basis for defining efficiency.
  • The court thus held that a ‘meritorious’ candidate is not merely one who is ‘talented’ or ‘successful’.
  • S/he is also one whose appointment fulfils the constitutional goals of uplifting members of the SCs and STs, and ensures a diverse and representative administration.

 

Latest order

  • The order by a two-Judge bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and U U Lalit upheld a Karnataka statute, allowing for reservations in promotion.
  • The order stated that inclusive development, and not meritocracy, that were key to ensuring meaningful and substantive equality.

 

Why is it a significant step?

This Supreme Court order is significant because it underlines a ‘meritorious’ candidate is not merely one who is ‘talented ‘or ‘successful’ but also one whose appointment fulfils the constitutional goals of uplifting members of the SCs and STs and ensuring a diverse and representative administration”.

  • The order validating the Karnataka law is a significant step in the long debate between ‘merit’ and ‘social justice’.
  • The Supreme Court’s decision rightly rejects the notion that quotas affect efficiency.
  • The order is also notable for being the first instance of quantifiable data being used to justify reservation.
  • A key principle in this decision is that where reservation for SC/ST candidates is concerned, there is no need to demonstrate the ‘backwardness’ of the community.
  • The other pre-requisites of a valid system remain valid, which are:
  • quantifiable data on the ‘inadequacy of representation’ for classes of people identified for reservation
  • an assessment of the impact of such quota on the “efficiency of administration”
  • The judgment, in all, places in perspective the historical and social justification for according reservation.
  • Efficiency not by exclusion – If this benchmark of efficiency is grounded in exclusion, it will produce a pattern of governance which is skewed against the marginalised.
  • Root in equal access – If this benchmark of efficiency is grounded in equal access, our outcomes will reflect the commitment of the Constitution to produce just social order.
  • Otherwise, our past will haunt the inability of our society to move away from being deeply unequal to one which is founded on liberty and fraternity.”

 

Sample Question:

Recent judgement on quota in promotion tries to balance efficiency and social Justice Elucidate.(250 Words)

 


 

Supreme Court Order on Reservation Law Info graph