Judgement of the day: Mukesh Kumar v. State of Uttarakhand
On 05/09/2012 the state government of Uttarakhand issued a notification to fill all the posts in public service without providing any reservation to the candidates belonging to scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. Challenging the above notification Gyan Chand, working as an assistant commissioner in state tax (civil) belonging to the scheduled caste filed a writ petition seeking to quash the impugned notification. The High court on 01/04/2019 struck down the said notification holding that the same is against the law as declared in Indra Sawhney v. Union of India &Ors. and Jarnail Singh &Ors. v. Lachhmi Narain Gupta &Ors. The court further held that it is not mandatory on the part of the state to collect quantified data regarding the representation of Scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and backward classes to provide for reservation.
Meanwhile Vinod Kumar and the other members belonging to the scheduled caste filed a writ petition before the High Court seeking to direct the state government to prepare a separate list of eligible candidates and a separate list for each category. Further also sought to direct the state to hold departmental promotion committee for promotion to the post of Assistant engineers after providing reservation to scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. The High Court on 15/07/2019 passed an order directing the state to promote only the members of the Scheduled caste and Scheduled tribes in future vacancies in order to maintain the quota reserved for them.
Aggrieved by the order passed by the High Court on 01/04/2019, the State of Uttarakhand filed a review petition in which the High Court held that Article 16(4) of the Indian Constitution is an enabling provision and hence cannot be claimed as fundamental right. The court further held that the court had committed an error in holding that no quantifiable data to be collected while providing reservation in public posts. The court directed the State government to collect the data regarding the representation of Scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and backward class within a period of 4 months and further directed the state to decide whether to provide reservation or not only after considering the collected data.
Aggrieved by the above order, appeal has been filed before the Supreme Court and similar such appeals regarding the Uttarakhand Public services were also filed. The Supreme Court considered all the appeal arising out of the similar issue as a batch and passed its judgment on 7th February, 2020.
The court in its impugned judgment held that Article 16(4) of the Indian Constitution is an enabling provision and not a fundamental right. The court held that providing reservation is the discretion of the state and hence the state cannot be compelled to provide the same. The court further opined that the state shall provide for reservation, if the state is of the opinion that they are not adequately represented and the courts should refrain from interfering in the policy decisions of the state. With regard to the collection of data the court held that the state need not justify its decision not to provide for reservation stating that they are adequately represented by collecting the quantified data. However, while providing reservation, collection of quantified data is a pre-requisite. The court also ruled that, the holding that the future vacancies to be filled only by the members of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes are unjustifiable.