New Delhi: Terming the move unconstitutional, the Supreme Court has quashed Uttar Pradesh government's decision to provide reservation benefits for SCs, STs & OBCs in promotions to higher posts saying the same was done without any sufficient data.

Upholding a bunch of petitions filed by aggrieved general category employees challenging the reservation in promotions, the apex court said the state failed to furnish sufficient valid data to justify the move to promote employees on caste basis.

 "The conditions precedent have not been satisfied. No exercise has been undertaken. What has been argued with vehemence is that it is not necessary as the concept of reservation in promotion was already in vogue.

"We are unable to accept the said submission, for when the provisions of the Constitution are treated valid with certain conditions or riders, it becomes incumbent on the part of the state to appreciate and apply the test so that its amendments can be tested and withstand the scrutiny on parameters laid down therein," a bench of justices Dalveer Bhandari and Dipak Mishra said.

In this case, the employees had challenged the validity of the provisions contained in Rule 8-A of the U.P Government Servants Seniority Rules, 1991, which provided for promotions to SC, ST, OBC employees for higher posts.

While a two-judge bench of the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court had quashed the rule as unconstitutional, another two-judge bench of the High Court upheld the reservation, after which the employees and the UP government filed appeals in the apex court.

The apex court said the rule was contary to the various judgements by the Constitution benches in the M Nagara, Indra Sawhney and various other cases wherein it was provided that reservation in promotions can be provided only if there is sufficient data and evidence to justify the need.
"We are of the firm view that a fresh exercise in the light of the judgement of the Constitution Bench in M. Nagaraj (supra) is a categorical imperative.

"The stand that the constitutional amendments have facilitated the reservation in promotion with consequential seniority and have given the stamp of approval to the Act and the Rules cannot withstand close scrutiny inasmuch as the Constitution Bench has clearly opined that Articles 16(4A) and16(4B) are enabling provisions and the state can make provisions for the same on certain basis or foundation."

 In the ultimate analysis, we conclude and hold that Section 3(7) of the 1994 Act and Rule 8A of the 2007 Rules are ultra vires as they run counter to the dictum in M. Nagaraj (supra)," the bench said.

The apex court, however, clarified any promotion granted on the basis of the Constitution bench decision in the Indra Sawhney case shall remain undisturbed.