Supreme Court directive on quota in promotions


What Happened ? The Supreme Court asked the Attorney General to collate various issues being raised by states with respect to the application of the M. Nagaraj case.


Why he must collect them ???? Simply, because each state has different issue with Natraj Case 2006


What is this Natraj Case ? What it the controversy in it ? Until the Indira Sawhney case, the creamy layer only applied to OBCs but in the M. Nagaraj case the court reversed its own judgement by enabling the application of creamy layer principle for SC and STs in promotions.


OH! Creamy Layer, what is it ?


Origin : The phrase ‘creamy layer’ was first coined by Justice V.K. Krishna Iyer in the case of State of Kerela v. N.M. Thomas (1975) and then in the Indira Sawhney Case in 1992.


Concept : It is used to define some members of backward classes who are economically, socially and educationally forward as compared to other members of their community.


Principle : People falling under creamy layer was denied reservation irrespective of their community/ class etc


Why creamy layer ? All the benefits of reservations end in the hands of the creamy layer, without allowing benefits to reach the truly vulnerable members of that class. So members of backward class who were economically, socially and educationally forward in comparison to others of their same community was identified as creamy layer and omitted from reservations


So as of now court said – creamy layer principle apply to SC/ ST too in Natraj Case .


What happen next ? In the Jarnail Singh case in 2018, centre sought to reconsider Natraj case and refer to high bench


BUT ! the court reiterated M. Ngaraj case and refused centre’s plea to refer the case to a higher bench.


Major verdict in 2020 ! Supreme Court, in Mahesh Kumar and Anr v. The State of Uttarakhand, dealt with question of reservations in promotions for disadvantaged groups in public services.


The Apex Court opined that reservations for disadvantaged groups were not fundamental rights, and it would be well within the State's power to not reserve seats after using its discretion. The impact of reservations, as an enabling provision of the Constitution of India, has thus been diluted and left at the discretion of the State.


Finally now in 2021 Jan, Supreme Court asked every state to furnish a note clearly explaining their issues regarding related to the controversy and ordered that the same be submitted to the Attorney General of India.


Relevant Legal Provisions: The legal provisions and statutes relevant to the present controversy are as follows:

  • Article 16(4) of the Constitution provides that the State can make any provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class of citizens who, in the opinion of the state are not adequately represented in the services under the State.

  • Article 16(4A) provides that the State can make any provision for reservation in matters of promotion in favour of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes if they are not adequately represented in the services under the State.

  • Article 335 of the Constitution recognizes that special measures need to be adopted for considering the claims of SCs and STs to services and posts.

Other related provisions are provided under Article 340, 341 and 342 of the Constitution of India.


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