News Brief

'Violates Equality Clauses Of Constitution': Patna High Court Sets Aside Bihar Government's Reservation Hike To 65 Per Cent

Nishtha Anushree

Jun 20, 2024, 12:43 PM | Updated 04:36 PM IST

Patna High Court. (Pic Via Facebook)
Patna High Court. (Pic Via Facebook)

The Patna High Court on Thursday (20 June) set aside the Bihar government's decision to increase the reservation in the state from the existing 50 per cent to 65 per cent based on the caste census.

In November 2023, the Nitish Kumar-led government passed amendments for increasing the reservation of Other Backward Classes (OBC), Extremely Backward Classes (EBC), Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST).

However, a division bench of Patna High Court comprising Chief Justice K Vinod Chandran and Justice Harish Kumar found it in violation of the equality clause under Articles 14, 15 and 16 of the Indian Constitution.

The judgment came in response to a batch of writ petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the Bihar Reservation of Vacancies in Posts and Services (Amendment) Act 2023 and The Bihar (In Admission in Educational Institutions) Reservation (Amendment) Act 2023.

The petition cited 'Indira Sawhney versus Union of India' case where the Supreme Court fixed 50 per cent reservation as the maximum ceiling for quota. "The quota hike was also discriminatory in nature," the petition said.

The amendment increased the OBC and EBC quota from 30 per cent to 43 per cent, ST quota from 1 per cent to 2 per cent and SC quota from 16 per cent to 20 per cent based on the caste census that found OBC and EBC comprise 63 per cent population.

The report found 19.7 percent of Bihar's population belongs to SCs, while STs make up 1.7 percent and their reservation was increased accordingly. The General Category comprises 15.5 percent of the population.

Kumar Abhishek, an advocate associated with the case said, "The Fundamental Rights in the Constitution talk of affirmative actions for ensuring adequate representation. A 50 per cent ceiling is a settled judicial principle and it can be breached in only exceptional cases."

"The Act brought in by the Bihar Government was so hastily drawn that it did not just ignore the constitutional and legal principles and provisions, but had glaring spelling and grammatical mistakes too," he told Swarajya.

Nishtha Anushree is Senior Sub-editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @nishthaanushree.

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