TOPIC : Supreme Court Order on Reservation Law
Topic in Syllabus: General Studies Paper 2: Indian Polity
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”
Recent judgement on quota in promotion tries to balance efficiency and social Justice Elucidate.(250 Words)