The Chhattisgarh High Court has held that the reservation policy for SC/ST in matters of promotion can only be framed based on the yardstick established by the Apex Court for quantifiable data, and must be in accordance with Article 16(4A) and (4B) of the Indian Constitution.

In that context, the Bench of Chief Justice Ramesh Sinha and Justice Ravindra Kumar Agrawal observed that, "Reservation Policy for SC and ST in Promotion can be framed only on the basis of yardstick fixed for collecting quantifiable data by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in various authoritative pronouncements and also based on the provisions contained in Article 16(4A) and (4B) of the Constitution of India."

In this case, the State of Chhattisgarh introduced the Chhattisgarh Civil Services (Promotion) Rules, 2003, including reservation and promotion rules for SC and ST categories. On June 24, 2004, respondent Nos. 3 to 5, namely C.G. State Power Holding Company Limited and C.G. State Power Generation Company Limited, adopted these rules for all cadres under their jurisdiction. The adoption was challenged in a Writ Petition, which was granted on May 6, 2013, by the Single Judge, stating that the adoption of the Promotion Rules, 2003, lacked legal authority. Respondent Nos. 3 to 5 appealed this decision, while the petitioners filed against certain observations made in the judgment. Rule 5 of the Promotion Rules, 2003, was re-adopted by respondent Nos. 3 to 5 on September 24, 2013, which was again challenged by the petitioners in a Writ Petition.

In compliance with the order dated February 4, 2019, passed by a Co-ordinate Bench, respondent Nos. 1 and 2, the State of Chhattisgarh, issued an amendment to Rule 5 of the Promotion Rules, 2003, on October 22, 2019. However, the petitioners challenged this amendment, arguing that it violated Article 14 and 16(4A) and (4B) of the Indian Constitution, as well as the rulings of the Supreme Court. The petitioners contended that the amendment was issued without following the observations of the Co-ordinate Bench and without collecting quantifiable data, which is required by law.

The petitioners further submitted that without collecting quantifiable data first, the State had directly issued the notification dated 22.10.2019, which violated Article 14 and 16(4A) and (4B) of the Constitution of India and the orders passed by the Court as well as the Hon’ble Supreme Court. It was further submitted that during the pendency of the writ petition, the Committee was constituted on 17.07.2020, which submitted its report on 17.10.2021, showing the arbitrary exercise of their powers.

The counsel for respondents/State, submitted that the State already had quantifiable data and it was not the case that the State enacted the said Promotions Rules, 2003, without having the quantifiable data. It was submitted that much before the judgment passed by the Supreme Court, there was an Act of 1994 i.e. Chhattisgarh Public Service (Reservation for Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe & Other Backward Classes) Act, 1994, which addressed the vacancy position and employment within the State. Section 19 of the Act of 1994 talks about the preparation of an annual report and submission of an annual report before the Vidhan Sabha. The State was well acquainted with the special needs of various classes and was now formally compiling and bringing the data in the form of a report, which had been submitted before the Court.

The High Court observed that, "If the State was having the necessary data, there would be no necessity to constitute the Committee on 17.07.2020 for collection of quantifiable data, but here the Committee has been constituted, who inspite of collecting the quantifiable data, only compiled the data which has already been available with the State. Further more, the data, which are said to already available with the State, has not been produced in the present case that these are the data's available with the State. Speaking in simple term that the State has first issued the notification of amended Promotion Rules, 2023 and thereafter, constituted the Committee to collect the quantifiable data, which is against the law laid down by Hon'ble Supreme Court in the aforesaid cases as also the order dated 04.02.2019 passed by Co-ordinate Bench of this Court in WA No. 409 of 2013 and other batch of matters."

Holding that the stand taken by the government could not be justified, the Court quashed the notification dated 22.10.2019 itself is quashed and the State Government was directed to rework/re-frame the Promotion Rules and to notify the same within the stipulated period.

Cause Title: S Santosh Kumar vs The State of Chattisgarh & Anr.

Click here to read/download the Judgment