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Supreme Court Directive on Quota in Promotions

Supreme Court Directive on Quota in Promotions

The Supreme Court asked the Attorney General to compile the various issues being raised by States with regard to the application of a Constitution Bench judgment of 2006 in the M. Nagaraj case.

The directive is based on a plea by the Centre to refer to a seven-judge Bench the question of whether creamy layer should apply or not to the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe community while providing them reservation in government promotions.

The court in M. Nagaraj case had upheld the application of the creamy layer principle to members of the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe communities in promotions.

Creamy Layer:

  • The term ‘Creamy layer’ was first mentioned in the Supreme Court’s landmark judgment in the Indra Sawhney case (1992).
  • This term is used to describe some members of a backward class who are socially, economically as well as educationally advanced as compared to the rest of the members of that community.
  • They lap up all the benefits of reservations meant for that class, without allowing benefits to reach the truly backward members of that class.

The issues raised by the states regarding application of creamy layer principle to members of the SC/ST communities in promotions are not common, hence such issues should be compiled before considering referral to a seven-judge bench.

M. Nagaraj Case (2006):

Reversed the stance in the Indra Sawhney case: In this case applying the creamy layer concept in SC/ST reservation in promotions, the Supreme court reversed its earlier stance in the Indra Sawhney case (1992), in which it had excluded the creamy layer concept on SCs/STs (that was applicable on OBCs).

Directives to the states: The five-judges Bench in Nagaraj case upheld the constitutional validity of all 77th, 81st, 82nd, and 85th constitutional amendments enabling reservation of SC/ST communities in promotions, but made certain directives for the states:

State is not bound to make reservations for SC/ST in the matter of promotions.

If a State wants to provide reservation to the SC/ST communities in promotions:

  • It has to collect quantifiable data showing backwardness of the class.
  • Show inadequacy of representation of that class in public employment in addition to compliance of Article 335.
  • State needs to ensure that its reservation provision does not lead to excessiveness- breaching the ceiling-limit of 50%, or destroying the creamy layer principle.