"In view of the law laid down by this court, there is no doubt that the state government is not bound to make reservations. There is no fundamental right which inheres in an individual to claim reservation in promotions," a bench of justices L Nageswara Rao and Hemant Gupta said.
"No mandamus can be issued by the court directing the state government to provide reservations," the bench said in its verdict.
The apex court said this while dealing with pleas regarding Uttarakhand government's September 5, 2012 decision to fill up all posts in public services in the state without providing reservations to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
The government's decision was challenged in the Uttarakhand High Court, which struck it down.
Dealing with the appeals against the high court verdict, the top court noted, "It is settled law that the state government cannot be directed to provide reservations for appointment in public posts. Similarly, the state is not bound to make reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in matters of promotions."
"However, if they (state) wish to exercise their discretion and make such provision, the state has to collect quantifiable data showing inadequacy of representation of that class in public services," the bench said.
While upholding the Uttarakhand government's September 2012 notification, the apex court said that as the government is not bound to provide reservation in promotions, the high court should not have declared the state's decision as illegal.
Referring to constitutional provision about reservation, the bench said, "It is for the state government to decide whether reservations are required in the matter of appointment and promotions to public posts."
It noted that Article 16 (4) and 16 (4-A) of the Constitution empowers the state to make reservation in matters of appointment and promotion in favour of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes "if in the opinion of state they are not adequately represented in the services of the state".
"The language in clauses (4) and (4-A) of Article 16 is clear, according to which, the inadequacy of representation is a matter within the subjective satisfaction of the state," the bench said, adding, "All that is required is that there must be some material on the basis of which the opinion is formed."