Supreme Court on Efficiency and Reservations in Promotions

Article 335 of the Indian Constitution deals states that the claims of the members of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes shall be taken into consideration, consistently with the maintenance of efficiency of administration, in the making of appointments to services and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or of a State.

Supreme Court Observations on Efficiency and Reservations

While upholding the law of Karnataka which upheld the reservation in promotions the Supreme Court has made the following observations:

  • Article 335 not only protects reservation in promotion but also allows for lowering the standards of evaluation. It recognises the need for creating a level playing field.  in the name of efficiency, fetters are not to be put in the path of correcting historical wrongs and injustices.
  • The efficiency of administration in the affairs of the Union or a State must be defined in an inclusive sense wherein diverse segments of society find representation as a true aspiration of governance by and for the people. Inclusion together with the recognition of plurality and diversity of the nation constitutes a valid constitutional basis for defining efficiency.
  • Reservation is not necessarily anti-merit. A system that produces or continues with inequalities is anti-merit. Hence a system that promotes substantive equality really promotes merit. Inclusion and reflection of social diversity in the state’s institutions furthers and does not diminish, the cause of merit.

The Supreme Court even held that nobody’s efficiency can be ascertained prior to appointment. Moreover, no scientific research has ever proved that SC/ST employees are less efficient in the performance of duties than general category employees.