“It is settled law, State Government cannot be directed to provide reservations for appointment in public posts [C.A. Rajendran, (1968) 1 SCR 721]. Similarly, State is not bound to make reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in matters of promotions. However, if they wish to exercise their discretion and make such provision, State has to collect quantifiable data showing inadequacy of representation of that class in public services. If decision of State Government to provide reservations in promotion is challenged, State concerned shall have to place before Court requisite quantifiable data and satisfy such reservations became necessary on account of inadequacy of representation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in a particular class or classes of posts without affecting general efficiency of administration as mandated by Article 335 [M. Nagaraj, (2006) 8 SCC 212].
Article 16(4) and 16(4-A) empower States to make reservation in matters of appointment and promotion in favour of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, ‘if in opinion of State they are not adequately represented in services of State’. It is for State Government to decide whether reservations are required in matter of appointment and promotions to public posts. The language in clauses (4) and (4-A) of Article 16 is clear, according to which, inadequacy of representation is a matter within subjective satisfaction of State. State can form its own opinion on basis of material it has in its possession already or it may gather such material. All that is required is, there must be some material on basis of which opinion is formed. Court should show due deference to opinion of State which does not, however, mean, opinion formed is beyond judicial scrutiny altogether.
It is abundantly clear, Article 16(4) and 16(4-A) are enabling provisions and collection of quantifiable data showing inadequacy of representation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in public service is a sine qua non for providing reservations in promotions. The data to be collected by State Government is only to justify reservation to be made in matter of appointment or promotion to public posts, according to Article 16(4) and 16(4-A). As such, collection of data regarding inadequate representation of members of Scheduled Castes and Schedules Tribes, as noted above, is a pre-requisite for providing reservations, and is not required when State Government decides not to provide reservations. Not being bound to provide reservations in promotions, State is not required to justify its decision on basis of quantifiable data, showing there is adequate representation of members of Scheduled Castes and Schedules Tribes in State services. Even if under-representation of Scheduled Castes and Schedules Tribes in public services is brought to notice of Court, no Mandamus can be issued by this Court to State Government to provide reservation.”
– Hon’ble Justice L. Nageswara Rao, Mukesh Kumar v. State of Uttarakhand, [Civil Appeal No. 1226 of 2020].
Also see, State of Punjab v. Anishka Goyal, [Civil Appeal No. 317 of 2022] decided on 25.01.2022.