Author: Dakshita Dhage.
(2006) 8 SCC 212.
NAMES OF PARTIES
Petitioner: M Nagaraj;
Respondent: Union Of India.
Justice Y. K. Sabharwal;
Justice K.G. Balakrishnan;
Justice P.K. Balasubramanyan.
As the expression goes, everyone is treated equally in the eyes of the law. Some sections of the public believe that everyone should be treated equally and without distinction because India is a secular and democratic country. There has always been unrest in society when people believe they are entitled to reserves because they are not treated fairly and that getting reservations will help them achieve their due status. In the Indra Sawhney Case,1 the Supreme Court’s Constitutional Bench came to the conclusion that under Article 16(4), caste rather than economic factors might be utilized to determine whether persons belong to the backward class. According to Article 16(4), the socially and educationally disadvantaged strata were different from those in Article 15(4).2 A class of citizens cannot be established solely on the basis of economic criteria. There shouldn’t be more than 50% of reservations. The Executive Order can be used to make reservations. Investigating complaints of inclusion that are either excessive or inadequate is under the purview of the permanent statutory body.
Most people thought it wasn’t necessary to weigh in on whether or not the Mandal Commission’s exercise was accurate or sufficient. The only court with the power to resolve disagreements over new standards is the Supreme Court. Nagaraj’s3 critics claim that Indra Sawhney, a nine-judge bench ruling that specifically said that SCs and STs are homogeneous and cannot be divided, was inadvertently and subtly disregarded. M. Nagaraj v. Union of India is one such illustrious case in which the Supreme Court rendered its decision regarding reservations for advancement in government jobs for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The quota policy is one of the constitutional mechanisms India implemented to address the issues of centuries of oppression meted out to specific castes that have led to a wide range of imbalances.
In view of the modifications made possible by Article 368, the case is relevant. The Framers believed that Article 368 struck a delicate balance between rigidity and flexibility, allowing them to stay safely away from the issues that existed in stiff and flexible arrangements in the amendment. The constitution’s structures vary in rigidity and flexibility depending on their significance and nature. anytime the necessity to adapt the Constitution to the evolving socio-economic and political landscape is being discussed.
- The petitioner in the aforementioned case filed a complaint and used Article 32 of the Indian Constitution to request the issuance of a writ of certiorari, which included a declaration that Article 16(4A) of the Indian Constitution was unconstitutional and violated its fundamental principles.
- The petitioners contend that using the modification power conferred by the violated amendment, the same legislator has violated the fundamental tenets of the constitution by acting as both a legislative body and a judge, overturning judgments rendered by this court. Therefore, the aforementioned change is unconstitutional4 and will probably be undone.
- The right to equality, which is a key tenet of the Constitution, is also allegedly one of the amendment’s other goals, according to petitioners. According to the petitioners, “equality” in the sense of Article 16(1) refers to “rapid promotion” rather than “consequential seniority.”
- The petitioners argue that under Article 16(4), reserving for members of the impoverished classes is only authorized during initial recruitment and not during promotion, contrary to what this Court decided in the instance of Indra Sawhney.
- The 1995 constitution, according to petitioners, was passed in violation of the court’s injunction. Article 16 of the aforementioned amendments, restored the carriage exception (4A).
- The petitioners contend that it would be terrible to grant accelerated seniority to promotions achieved with roster points. By the time he is 45 years old, a graduate stream roster-point promotion will have advanced him to the fourth level.
- He would achieve his goal at the age of 49 and remain there for nine years. While the general merit promotion would complete the third level of six at the age of 56 and be out of employment by the time, he was qualified for the fourth level, the general merit promotion would not.
- The petitioners claim that because the 85th Amendment is in question and allows for seniority-based reservations in promotions, officers from reserved categories will face unfair treatment in higher-level positions.
- Does it hold true that the decisions made in reaction to the Supreme Court’s ruling on promotions were implemented retroactively?
- Are equity and equality a part of the fundamental qualities, underlying framework, or both of the constitution?
- How much have the disputed constitutional amendments increased the power of the legislature, if at all, to the point where all constitutional restraints have been lifted?
The Bench determined that the contested constitutional amendments incorporated Articles 16(4A) and 16(4B) while removing Articles 16(4A) and 16(4B) from Article 16(4). They make no changes to the format of Article 16(4) in any way. In line with Article 335, they uphold the guiding principles or essential aspects of backwardness and inadequacy of participation that allow governments to offer reservations while taking into account the overall efficacy of governmental administration. The disputed amendments only apply to SCs and STs. The 50 percent limit, the concept of the “creamy layer,” the subclassification of OBCs and SCs/STs as decided in the Indra Sawhney case, and the idea of a post-based roster with an implicit notion of the substitute as decided in the R.K. Sabharwal case5 are all still legal requirements under the constitution, demonstrating that the Article 16 system of equal opportunity will not function without the 50% threshold, the creamy layer hypothesis, and the arguments of backwardness, inadequate representation, and overall administrative effectiveness.
Bench[ www.lawfoyer.in.] came to the judgment that before enacting a provision for reservation, the concerned State must demonstrate the existence of compelling factors, such as backwardness, lack of participation, and overall administrative efficacy, in each case. The challenging part is only an enabling provision, according to the Hon’ble Bench, and the government is not required to apply reservations for SC/ST in promotions. But if the State decides to use its discretion and establish such a provision, it must also abide by Article 335 and compile quantitative proof of the class’s deprivation and under-representation in the workforce. The Bench determined that even though the State has a strong legal basis for its reservation regulations, as described above, it must be careful to prevent excess, remove the creamy layer, or extend the reservation indefinitely.
The state must demonstrate the underdevelopment of the group receiving benefits from the reservation, the lack of adequate representation in the position for which the reservation in promotions is to be granted, and how the reservation in promotions will improve administrative effectiveness, according to a report. The Court maintained the contested constitutional amendment’s legality. The acknowledged court claims that social justice is concerned with how rights and obligations are distributed. Where rights, needs, and means converge is where distribution should take place. These three needs could be classed as either “proportional equality” or “formal equality,” where formal equality means that everyone is treated equally under the law.
In M. Nagaraj v. Union of India, a five-judge Supreme Court panel confirmed the legality of Articles 16(4A) and 16(4B). However, there are numerous legal problems with the justifications used to uphold the Articles’ legitimacy. In this instance, the reason for the reservation was based on weighing the interests of applicants in the general category against those of candidates in the reserved group. There is no mention of balancing in any of the Constitution’s Article 15 or Article 16 clauses. By advancing such a claim, the focus of reservation is shifted away from socioeconomic discrimination, the problem that Article 16 was intended to solve. Instead, the attention shifts to public employment, which, according to the judgment, must be dispersed among general and reserved candidates while maintaining balance. For the first time, the Court connected the concepts of equity, justice, and merit in M. Nagaraj. For the first time, the Court stated that these principles are applied in the form of “quantifiable facts in each case” in public employment. When interpreting Article 16(4), the equality of the facts as opposed to the equality of the law is given priority.
The Court also determined that Article 16(4) is an enabling clause as opposed to Article 16 and operates in completely different domains. The State government acts in compliance with Article 16 due to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes’ underrepresentation and social backwardness. The Court acknowledged that while the State government’s ability to enact reservation policies is constitutionally valid, the State government’s use of that power in a particular circumstance can be arbitrary and must therefore be assessed on a case-by-case basis in order to distinguish between the rule of law and the rule of facts. As a result, the Court understood Article 16(4) to be a question of factual equality.
In M. Nagaraj, the Court applied Article 335 to its interpretation of Article 16(4) of the Constitution. This opinion held by the Court is incorrect, especially in light of Article 320(4) of the Constitution. As a result, it is possible to argue that Article 320(4) of the Constitution makes a distinction between the application of Article 16(4) and Article 335 and forbids the Public Service Commission from interfering in either situation. When it is essential for one provision to be limited by or read into the reach of another provision, the Constitution clearly provides for this to happen. That clause controls how Clauses 3, 4, 4-A, 4-B, and 5 of Article 16 are implemented. For the purpose of establishing their scope, none of these clauses make reference to Article 335. Since the Constitution’s framers did not express a desire for this limitation to be made, Article 335’s restriction of Article 16 is a strong restraint on the former.
Additionally, the court emphasized the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Constitution (Seventy-Seventh Amendment) Act, 1995 in upholding the legality of Article 16(4A). According to the Statement, it is essential to keep giving Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes reservations because their representation in public services has not reached the intended level. The Court asserted that Clause (4A) follows the same precise pattern as Article 16’s Clauses (3) and (4), which are predicated on the State’s perception of inadequate representation. The Court ruled that insufficient representation must be proven with quantitative evidence in each case involving promotion. In this way, the M. Nagaraj ruling established equality of fact as a standard for judging whether or not reservations are lawful. Equality before the law and equal protection under the law is guaranteed by Article 14 of the constitution.
The equality of fact did not have much significance prior to M. Nagaraj. M. Nagaraj established Article 335 as another important criterion for the application of reservations. Three significant patterns were established by the M. Nagaraj judgment in establishing6 the legitimacy of SC and ST promotion reservations. First, it stipulated that the issue of equity in promotion is one fact, to be resolved on a case-by-case basis. Second, the Court missed the fact that Indra Sawhney had only permitted the sub-classification of OBCs into the creamy layer and not in any other way, even though it had implied the validity of both Articles 16(4A) and 16(4B). For SCs and STs, this classification was forbidden. The M. Nagaraj judgment aimed to establish Article 16(4A) as an enabling provision that is dependent on real equality. According to this proposal, the State has the right to judge whether reservation programs are necessary to execute. As a result, the State may determine who is eligible to use these programs.
However, the Supreme Court upheld the Court’s authority to decide on reservation policies under Article 16 of the Constitution in the same ruling. M. Nagaraj, therefore, adheres to both beliefs, which are in conflict. The application of Article 16 was significantly hampered by these discrepancies (4-A). It might be claimed that the failure to apply Articles 16(4A) and 16 is not solely the responsibility of the courts. The lengthy obiter produced in the cases under discussion exemplifies the style of judicial review that was applied to the subject matter. Along with the legislative and judicial branch’s hostile and paranoid reactions to one another’s rulings, this has contributed to Article 16(4A) becoming a toothless provision. According to some, the stringent scrutiny principle was covertly inserted by the Supreme Court7 after M. Nagaraj. The Court has since applied this theory to factually decide equality. As a result, the State’s regulations relating to promotions have been overturned. Since the State now could foresee the unavoidable consequences of reserve policies if challenged in court, the dubious States were prompted to forego data collecting and, as a result, to establish reservation-related schemes.
The founders of the Constitution wanted to utilize it to bring about a socio-economic revolution in a free India, therefore they designed it to be an instrument for social change. In an effort to provide security for the tiller of the soil and promote equality of status and opportunity to all parts of the rural population, numerous laws enacted in several States involving land reforms have led to a significant number of litigations. The Supreme Court supported the Parliament’s decision to broaden reservations for SCs and STs to include promotional offers with three riders in this case. The conclusion of this case, in my opinion, will have a significant influence on how the less fortunate elements of society evolve.
The rules that have been implemented to enable reservations in promotions, even though it will only be a temporary process, will surely encourage SCs or STs to participate in work more productively. Because it required the state to take into account the SCs and STs’ underdevelopment in the framework of promotion quotas, it quickly raised concerns that it failed to acknowledge that the SCs and STs have continued to face discrimination for millennia. Even though some of them do not meet the requirements for efficiency, insufficient presence in services, or backwardness, much alone their non-membership in the creamy layer group within the SCs and STs. In the 4th, 39th, 40th, 42nd, and 76th amendments, where the Parliament attempted to abuse and misuse its power by inserting some contentious laws into the Schedule and weakening the Constitution’s text to show its supremacy, the power of Parliament to enact numerous amendments to the Constitution with regard to the Ninth Schedule was justiciable.
- Indra Sawhney Etc. v.. Union of India and Others AIR 1993 SC 477.
- Constitution of India.
- M. Nagaraj & Others v. Union of India 2006 8 SCC 212.
- R. K. Sabharwal And Ors. v. State of Punjab And Ors. 1995 AIR 1371, 1995 SCC (2) 745.