Reservations in Promotion Day #1: SC Scrambles to Hear all Petitions

Reservation in Promotion

Judges: L.N. Rao J, B.R. Gavai J

In Jarnail Singh (2018) the Court had introduced the creamy layer exclusion principle, requiring that States do not extend reservations in promotion to SC/ST individuals who belong to the creamy layer of the said SC/ST. Unsure about how this was to be implemented, State governments filed a group of petitions seeking clarifications.

In September 2021, the Court refused to reconsider Jarnail Singh. It held that States must devise their own yardstick to collect quantifiable data demonstrating inadequacy of representation of SC/STs in public employment. However, it agreed to hear arguments on whether any clarifications were necessary. The Bench hearing these arguments consists of Justices Nageswara Rao and B.R. Gavai.

Between 1997 and 2010, the Union issued several Office Memorandums (OMs) that granted reservations in promotions for SC/STs. However, in Nagraj, Jarnail Singh 2018 and 2022, the Court laid down that data showing inadequacy of representation must be the basis to grant reservations to SC/STs in promotions.

The SC is now hearing petitions from various States that argue that a roster system was developed to grant reservations in the cadre was based on data. In today’s hearing, Justices Rao and Gavai appeared unsure as to how over 80 petitions seeking clarity on data would be heard. The Bench instructed Additional Solicitor General Balbir Singh to file an affidavit explaining what data the Union relied on for the OMs. Further, the ASG is instructed to explain the validity and applicability of that data.

The matter will be heard next in March.