SC/ST Quota in job promotions

Prelims level : Mains level : GS Paper- II Laws, Institutions & Bodies Constituted for the protection and betterment of vulnerable elections.
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The Supreme Court ruled that states don’t have to collect quantifiable data on ‘backwardness’ for SC/ST quota in job promotions.


  • The apex court clarified that there was no need to revisit its 12-year-old verdict in the M Nagaraj case which had said that the states were bound to provide quantifiable data on the backwardness of SC/ST, the facts about their inadequate representation in government jobs and the overall administrative efficiency, before providing them quota in promotions.
  • The Supreme Court had paved the way for grant of quota for promotions in the government jobs to SCs and STs, holding that the states were not required to “collect quantifiable data” reflecting the backwardness among these communities.
  • The apex court also turned down the Centre’s plea that overall population of SC/ST be considered for granting quota for them.
  • The verdict cleared a major hurdle that was cited by the central government in granting reservation in promotion to its employees belonging to the Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST).
  • Judgment was also critical because it upheld the Nagaraj ruling that, while promoting SCs and STs.
  • Court held that untouchability, not backwardness is the basis for ST/SC quota in job promotions. As SC and ST communities have been facing caste-based discrimination for long and the stigma of caste is attached to them despite the fact that some of them have come up.


  • The apex court delivered the verdict on a batch of petitions seeking that a seven-judge bench reconsiders the court’s 2006 judgement which had put conditions for granting quota benefits in job promotions for SC/ST employees.
  • The bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said the conclusion arrived at in the Nagaraj case that the states have to collect quantifiable data showing backwardness of SCs and STs was “contrary” to the nine-judge bench judgement in the Indra Sawhney verdict of 1992, popularly known as Mandal Commission case.

Nagaraj V. Union of India

  • In the 2006 judgment, the Apex Court had held that it is not mandatory for the State to make reservations for SC/ST in matter of promotions. However, if the State did wish to exercise its discretion, it is supposed to gather quantifiable data showing backwardness of the class and inadequacy of representation of that class in public employment, in addition to compliance with Article 335. • The facts about their inadequate representation in government jobs and the overall administrative efficiency, before providing quota in promotions to members of these communities.
  • The State is required to adhere to the ceiling-limit of 50% and abstain from obliterating the creamy layer or extending the reservation indefinitely.
  • The Centre has alleged that the verdict in the M Nagraj case had put unnecessary conditions in granting quota benefits to the SC and ST employees and sought its reconsideration by a larger bench.
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