IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                          CIVIL  APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                   CIVIL APPEAL NOs. 6046-6047 OF 2004

 ROHTAS BHANKHAR & OTHERS                          ...APPELLANT(s)                  


 UNION OF INDIA AND ANOTHER                         ..  RESPONDENT(s)  


                                                                                        J U D G M E N T


                 On 23.12.1970 (1970  O.M.),  the  Department  of  Personnel

issued  Office  Memorandum  being  O.M.  No.   8/12/69-Estt.(SCT) relaxing standards in  the  case   of Scheduled Castes/Tribes candidates  in departmental  competitive  examinations  and  in  departmental  confirmation examinations.  The said O.M. remained operative for  about  17  years  until O.M. No. 36012/23/96-Estt.(Res)  dated  22.7.1997  was  issued  whereby  the instructions  contained  in   1970  O.M.  were  withdrawn. Thereafter by Notification dated  30.11.1998,  the  Central  Secretariat  Service  Section Officers' Grade/Stenographers' Grade 'B  (Limited  Departmental  Competitive Examination) Regulations, 1964 (for short “1964 Regulations”)  were  amended by Central Secretariat Service Section Officers' Grade/Stenographers'  Grade 'B (Limited Departmental  Competitive  Examination)  Amendment  Regulations, 1998 (for short “1998 Regulations”).  The result of this amendment was  that  in 1964 Regulations, Regulation 7, sub-regulation (3) was  omitted  on  and from 22.7.1997.  The explanatory note appended  to  the  above  Notification reads as follows:

In compliance with the Supreme Court's judgment in  the  case  of  S.  Vinod Kumar vs. Union of India  (JT 1996(8) SC 643),  the  Central  Government decided  to  omit  the  provisions  of  regulation  7(3)  of   the   Central Secretariat  Service  Section  Officers'  Grade/Stenographers' Grade 'B' (Limited Departmental   Competitive  Examination)  Regulations,  1964  which provides for relaxed qualifying standard in favour of the  Scheduled  Castes and the Scheduled Tribes  candidates  to  make  up  the  deficiency  in  the reserved quota which has been rendered legally  invalid  and  unenforceable. This is certified that no one is being adversely  affected  by  giving  this amendment retrospective effect.  

2.  In S. Vinod Kumar1, this Court relying upon Indra Sawhney2  held  that  provision for lower qualifying marks/standard of  evaluation  was  not permissible under Article 16(4) of the Constitution  of  India  in  view  of Article 335.

3.          Though Article 16(4A) had been  brought   into  Constitution  by the Constitution (Seventy-seventh Amendment)  Act,  1995  with  effect  from 17.6.1995,   S. Vinod Kumar1 did  not  take into consideration this constitutional provision.  In our view, S. Vinod Kumar1 is per incuriam.

4.          Moreover by  the  Constitution  (Eighty-second  Amendment)  Act, 2000, a proviso has been appended to Article 335 of  the  Constitution  with effect from 8.9.2000.  The proviso reads as follow:

Provided that nothing in  this  article  shall  prevent  in  making  of  any provision in  favour  of  the  members  of  the  Scheduled  Castes  and  the Scheduled Tribes for relaxation in qualifying marks in  any  examination  or lowering  the  standards  of  evaluation,  for  reservation  in  mattes   of promotion to any class or classes of services or posts in connect  with  the affairs of the Union or of a State.

5.          On 8.10.1999, when special leave  petitions,  from  which  these appeals arise, came up for  consideration  before  a  two-Judge  Bench,  the Bench first formulated the point for  consideration  in  the  matter,  viz., whether it was permissible for the  authorities  to  fix  lesser  number  of qualifying marks for reserved candidates in the matter of 'promotion'.   The Bench noticed three judgments  of this Court;   (1) Indra Sawhney2,  (2)  S. Vinod Kumar1 and (3) Kuldeep Singh3  and observed  that  in  Kuldeep  Singh3 the  Court  did  not  notice   the  observations  of  majority  as  well  as observations of Sawant, J. in  Indra Sawhney2, and the matter needed  to  be heard by a three-Judge Bench.

6.          On 2.12.1999, the matter came up  before  a  three-Judge  Bench. The Bench on that day reiterated what was earlier stated by   the  two-Judge Bench in the order dated 08.10.1999  that in Kuldeep Singh3, the  Bench  had not referred to the majority decision in Indra Sawheny2.  The Bench  doubted the correctness of the decision in Kuldeep Singh3 and  referred  the  matter to the Constitution Bench.  In the reference order,  the  three-Judge  Bench also noted  the decision of this Court in Haridas Parsedia etc.  vs.  Urmila Shakya  and  others  (Civil  Appeal  Nos.  6590-6592  of  1999  etc.)  dated 19.11.1999 wherein  it  was  observed  that  in  the  case  of  departmental promotion examination, which is held exclusively for  SCs/STs,  there  could be reduction to the extent of 10% in the passing marks. As  regards  Haridas Parsedia (supra), the Bench observed that in that case, the observations  of this Court in Indra Sawhney2 wherein it was laid down  that there cannot  be dilution of standards in matter of promotion was not noticed.

7.   It is important to note here  that  constitutional  validity  of Article 16(4A) came up for consideration before the  Constitution  Bench  in the case of M. Nagaraj4.  In paras 97 to 99 (page 267) of  the  report,  the Constitution Bench observed:

                97. As stated above, clause (4-A) of Article 16 is carved out of clause  (4) of Article 16. Clause (4-A) provides benefit  of  reservation  in                             promotion only to SCs and STs.  In S. Vinod Kumar v. Union of India  this  Court  held that relaxation of qualifying marks and standards of                             evaluation  in  matters of reservation in promotion was not permissible under Article 16(4) in  view of Article 335 of the  Constitution.   This  was                     also  the  view  in  Indra Sawhney.


                 98.   By the Constitution (Eighty-second Amendment) Act, 2000 a proviso  was inserted at the end of Article 335 of the Constitution which reads                 as  under :

                “Provided that nothing in this  article  shall  prevent  in  making  of  any provision in  favour  of  the  members  of  the  Scheduled  Castes  and  the                 Scheduled Tribes for relaxation in qualifying marks in  any  examination  or lowering  the  standards  of  evaluation,  for  reservation  in  matters                      of promotion to any class or classes of services or posts  in  connection  with the affairs of the Union or of a State.” 

                99.   This proviso  was  added  following the benefit of reservation in promotion conferred upon SCs and  STs  alone.   This  proviso  was  inserted                 keeping in mind the judgment of this Court in Vinod  Kumar  which  took  the view that  relaxation  in  matters  of  reservation  in  promotion  was                  not permissible under Article 16(4) in view of the command contained in  Article 335.  Once a separate category is carved out of clause  (4)  of                      Article  16 then that category is being given relaxation in matters  of  reservation  in promotion.  The proviso is confined to SCs and STs alone.                      The said  proviso is compatible with the scheme of Article 16(4-A).

8.          The conclusions recorded by  the  Constitution   Bench   in   M. Nagaraj4  are  also relevant and they read as under:

            121.  The impugned constitutional amendments by which Articles  16(4-A)  and  16(4-B) have been inserted flow from Article 16(4).  They do not                  alter  the structure of Article 16(4).  They retain  the  controlling  factors  or  the compelling reasons, namely, backwardness and  inadequacy  of                      representation which enables the States to provide for  reservation  keeping  in  mind  the overall efficiency of the State  administration  under                          Article  335.  These impugned amendments  are  confined  only  to  SCs  and  STs.   They  do  not obliterate any of the constitutional requirements,                 namely, ceiling limit  of 50% (quantitative limitation), the  concept  of  creamy  layer  (qualitative exclusion), the sub-classification between OBCs                 on one hand and SCs and  STs on the other hand as held  in  Indra  Sawhney,  the  concept  of  post-based roster with inbuilt concept of replacement                 as held in R.K. Sabharwal. 

            122.  We reiterate that the ceiling limit of  50%,  the  concept  of  creamy layer and  the  compelling  reasons,  namely,  backwardness,  inadequacy  of             representation and overall administrative efficiency are all  constitutional requirements without which the  structure  of  equality  of  opportunity  in                 Article 16 would collapse.

            123.  However, in this case, as stated above, the main  issue  concerns  the “extent of reservation”.  In this regard the State concerned  will  have  to                 show  in  each  case  the  existence  of  the  compelling  reasons,  namely, backwardness inadequacy of representation and overall  administrative                  efficiency  before making provision for reservation.  As stated above, the  impugned  provision is an enabling provision.  The State is not bound to                  make  reservation  for SCs/STs in matters of promotions.  However, if they wish to  exercise  their discretion and make such provision, the State has             to collect  quantifiable data showing backwardness of the class and inadequacy of  representation  of that class in public employment in addition to                 compliance with Article  335.  It is made clear that even if the State has compelling reasons,  as  stated above, the State will have to see that its                         reservation  provision  does  not lead to  excursiveness  so  as  to  breach  the  ceiling  limit  of  50%  or obliterate the creamy layer or extend the                     reservation indefinitely.

            124.  Subject  to  the above, we uphold the constitutional validity  of  the Constitution (Seventy-Seventh (Amendment) Act;1995: the Constitution                 (Eighty- first Amendment) Act, 2000; the Constitution (Eighty-second Amendment)  Act, 2000 and the Constitution (Eighty-fifth Amendment) Act,             2001. 

9.          We do not think, it is necessary for us to deal with  the  width and scope of  Article 16(4A) any further.  Insofar   as  Kuldeep  Singh2  is concerned, we find that the matter was decided by this Court  having  regard to the  constitutional provision contained in  Article   16(4A).   The  view taken by this Court in Kuldeep Singh3  is  in  accord  with   constitutional scheme articulated in Article 16(4A).   On  the  other  hand,  in  S.  Vinod Kumar1, the Court failed to consider Article 16(4A).  As a matter  of  fact, Article 16(4A) was inserted in the Constitution to  undo  the   observations in Indra Sawhney2 that  there can not be dilution of  standards  in  matters of promotion.  

10.         We are in respectful agreement with  the  decision in Kuldeep Singh3 and approve the same. Ordinarily, we would have sent  the  matter  to the Regular Bench for disposal of the  matter   but  having  regard  to  the nature  of  controversy  and  the  fact  that  the   Central  Administrative Tribunal, Delhi (for short “the Tribunal”) has  followed   S.  Vinod  Kumar1 which is not a good law and resultantly 1997 O.M. is also  illegal,  in  our view, the agony of the  appellants  need  not  be  prolonged  as   they  are entitled to the reliefs.

11.         Consequently, civil appeals are allowed. The impugned order is set-aside. 1997 O.M. is declared illegal.  The respondents are  directed  to modify the results in the Section Officers/Stenographers  (Grade  B/Grade-I) Limited  Departmental  Competitive  Examination,  1996  by   providing   for reservation and extend all consequential reliefs to the appellants,  if  not granted so far.  No costs.


                                                                                               (R.M. LODHA).............................................CJI.

                                                                                                (JAGDISH SINGH KHEHAR .........................J.

                                                                                                (J. CHELAMESWAR).........................J.                                       

                                                                                               (A.K. SIKRI).........................J.

                                                                                               (ROHINTON FALI NARIMAN)  .........................J.

NEW DELHI;                

JULY 15, 2014.              


ITEM NO.502               COURT NO.1               SECTION XVI


               S U P R E M E  C O U R T  O F  I N D I A

                       RECORD OF PROCEEDINGS

                     Civil Appeal No(s). 6046-6047/2004

ROHTAS BHANKHAR & ORS                            Appellant(s)


U.O.I. & ANR                                    Respondent(s)

Date : 15/07/2014 These appeals were called on for hearing today.







For Appellant(s) Dr. Krishan Singh Chauhan,Adv.

                       Mr. Ajit Kumar Ekka, Adv.

                       Mr. Ravi Prakash, Adv.

                       Mr. Chand Kiran, Adv.

                       Mr. Murari Lal, Adv.


For Respondent(s)      Mr. Ranjit Kumar, SG

                       Mr. P.S. Patwalia, ASG

                       Mr. A. Mariarputham, Sr. Adv.

                       Ms. V. Mohana, Adv.

                       Ms. Binu Tamta, Adv. Adv.

                       Mr. D.L. Chidananda, Adv. for

                       Ms. Sushma Suri, Adv.

            UPON hearing counsel the Court made the following

                               O R D E R

            Civil Appeals are allowed in terms of reportable judgment.

(PARDEEP KUMAR)                        (RENU DIWAN)                        

AR-cum-PS                              COURT MASTER                         



1       (1996) 6 SCC 580,  S. VINOD KUMAR & ANOTHER VS. UNION OF INDIA

          AND OTHERS