What was the Supreme Court verdict in the case of Nagaraj and Others v/s Union of India? What is significance of this verdict?

The case of Nagaraj and others v/s Union of India is a landmark case. In the case the court had dealt with a challenge to constitutional amendments aimed at nullifying the impact of judgments including that in the famous Mandal case, on reservations in promotions for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe employees.

Questions before the Supreme Court in the case

The petition had challenged the constitutional validity of the following

  • Seventy-Seventh Amendment constitutional amendment Act, 1995, which inserted Clause 4A in Article 16.
  • Eighty-First constitutional amendment Act 2000 , which inserted Clause 4A in Article 16.
  • Eighty-second constitutional amendment Act 2000 which inserted a proviso to Article 335.
  • Eighty-Fifth constitutional Amendment Act, 2001, which changed the wording of Article 16(4A).

Why the amendments were brought in?

  • The quotas in promotions for SCs and STs had been discontinued after the judgment in the case of Indra Sawhney in which the Supreme Court observed that reservation under Article 16(4) which allows the state to make provisions for reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class of citizens did not apply to promotions.
  • In order to ensure the promotions continued, Clause 4A was introduced under 77th amendment which states “Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any provision for reservation in matters of promotion in favour of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes which, in the opinion of the State, are not adequately represented in the services under the State.”
  • Clause 4B was introduced under the 81st amendment act to ensure that while calculating the quota for a particular year capped at 50%, the unfilled or ‘carried forward’ quota from the earlier year was not clubbed with the regular quota of that year.
  • 82nd amendment act was brought in to nullify the verdict in the case of Indra Sawhney where it was held that relaxation of qualifying marks and standards of evaluation for reservation in promotion were not permissible under Article 16(4). Article 335 was amended to restore relaxations.
  • 85th amendment was brought in to ensure the interests of SC/ST employees in the matter of seniority on promotion to the next higher grade due to the verdict in the case of Vipul Singh Chauhan.

Verdict in the Nagaraj Judgment:

The Supreme Court had upheld the constitutional validity of the 77th, 81st, 82nd, and 85th Amendments. The Supreme Court held that if the state wished to exercise their discretion and make provision for reservation in promotions for SCs/STs the State has to collect quantifiable data showing backwardness of the class and inadequacy of representation of that class in public employment. Even if the State has compelling reasons it has to see that its reservation provision does not breach the ceiling-limit of 50% or obliterate the creamy layer or extend the reservation indefinitely.


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