News Excerpt
In a recent judgment, the Supreme Court ruled that states are not legally bound to provide quotas to Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) in government jobs and held that individuals have no fundamental right to claim reservations in promotions.

•    The court gave the verdict during a case regarding the validity of a 2012 notification by the Uttarakhand government to fill up vacancies in government jobs without giving reservation to the SC/ST communities.
•    The Uttarakhand High Court back then had struck down the notification.
•    Through its verdict the apex court upheld thestate government's decision and overturned the Uttarakhand HC's order which had asked the government to provide representation to the specified categories.
•    The bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and Hemant Gupta said that there is no fundamental right which inheres in an individual to claim reservation in promotions. Also, no mandamus can be issued by the court directing state governments to provide reservations.

    Agreeing that there is no fundamental right for claiming reservation in promotions in public jobs, the top court held that that while articles 16(4) and 16(4A) of the Constitution give states the power to make such reservations, it is so only “if in the opinion of the state they are not adequately represented in the services of the state”
    State governments may exercise this above mentioned discretion in making such provisions, provided that it collects data showing the lack of representation to these categories in the government employment.
    The judgment says that the state will also have to justify its decision to provide reservations if challenged in a court of law. However, the state government needs to collect data when making provisions for reservation and not when the government decides not to provide quotas.
    The court thus ruled that even if the under-representation of SC/STs in public services is brought to the notice of the court, no direction can be issued by the court to the state government to provide reservation.

o    Mandamus is among the “prerogative writs” in English common law.
o    It is a writ issued by a court to compel performance of a particular act by lower court or a governmental officer or body, to correct a prior action or failure to act.
o    Mandamus literally means ‘we command’. When issued to a person or body, the writ of mandamus demands some activity on their part. It orders the person or body to perform a public or quasi-public duty, which they have refused to perform, and where no other adequate legal remedy exists to enforce the performance of that duty.
o    The writ cannot be issued unless the legal duty is of public nature, and to whose performance the applicant of the writ has a legal right.
o    The remedy is of a discretionary nature — a court can refuse to grant it when an alternative remedy exists. However, for enforcing fundamental rights, the alternative remedy argument does not hold as much weight, since it is the duty of the Supreme Court and the High Courts to enforce fundamental rights.
o    When a public officer or government does an act that violates the fundamental right of a person, the court would issue a writ of mandamus against such authorities so that the person’s rights are not infringed.
o    The writ can also be issued against inferior courts or other judicial bodies when they have refused to exercise their jurisdiction and perform their duty.
o    Under Article 361, mandamus cannot be granted against the President or Governor of a State, “for the exercise and performance of the powers and duties of his office or for any act done or purporting to be done by him in the exercise and performance of those powers and duties”
o    The writ also cannot be issued against a private individual or body, except where the State is in collusion with the private party for contravening a provision of the Constitution or a statute.

Mandamus vs Prohibition & Certiorari
o    Mandamus is used where the authority refuses to exercise jurisdiction; prohibition and certiorari are issued to prevent subordinate courts (and inferior tribunals) from usurping jurisdiction or from acting in excess to their jurisdiction. Hence, while mandamus is available against public authority; prohibition and certiorari are available against subordinate courts and inferior tribunals.
o    Certiorari and prohibition deal with wrongful action, while mandamus deals with wrongful inaction.
o    Mandamus acts where the authority concerned has declined jurisdiction; certiorari or prohibition act where courts (and tribunals) usurp jurisdiction not vested in them or exceed their jurisdiction

Mandamus vs Quo Warranto
o    While mandamus is a command to a person or a body under a legal duty to do something; quo-warranto is a proceeding by which a person is asked to state by what authority he supports his claim to a particular office, liberty or franchise.
o    In a mandamus proceeding, the petitioner must show that he is a person aggrieved but this requirement is not necessary in a quo-warranto proceeding. Mandamus and quo-warranto are concurrent remedies.

There is not an iota of doubt that Reservation and social justice is the need of the hour but it must be only to the extent that the efficiency of the govt. is not affected and merit is not compromised

Article 16
    Article 16 of the Constitution pertains to matters of equality of opportunity in matters of public employment, while sub-sections 4 and 4A pertain to reservations to SCs/STs in appointments and reservations in promotions respectively.
    Article 16(4) states: "Nothing in this Article shall prevent the State from making any provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favor of any backward class of citizens which, in the opinion of the State, is not adequately represented in the services under the State.'
    Article 16(4A) states: "Nothing in this Article shall prevent the State from making any provision for reservation in matters of promotion, with consequential seniority, to any class or classes of posts in the services under the State in favor 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.

M Nagraj and others vs UOI, Venkataramana vs State of Madras, Art 32, Art 226, Writs, Equality Before Law, Equal Protection of Law