Members of the media gather outside of the Supreme Court in New Delhi, India. (Photographer: Pankaj Nangia/Bloomberg)

Reservations: 10% Quota Bill Challenged In Supreme Court

A plea challenging the bill to provide up to 10 percent reservation in government jobs and education for economically backward citizens of India was filed in the Supreme Court, on grounds that it violates the basic principles of the Constitution.

The petition, filed by a non-governmental organisation Youth for Equality, opposed the bill on four grounds:

  • The Supreme Court in a 1992 ruling said economic criteria cannot be the sole basis of reservation and this bill is in violation of the top court’s orders.
  • By providing reservation on economic grounds to people only from forward castes, the bill excludes members from other backward classes and the scheduled castes and scheduled tribe communities and thus, violates the “Right to Equality” guaranteed by the Constitution.
  • The overall cap for reservation was capped at 50 percent by the Supreme Court in 2006 and was reiterated in 2018. The breach of the 50 percent cap will be violative of the basic structure of the Constitution and the bill is liable to be struck down.
  • The top court in its earlier judgments said “the state’s reservation policy cannot be imposed on unaided educational institutions, and as they are not receiving any aid from the state, they can have their own admissions provided they are fair, transparent, non-exploitative and based on merit”.

The constitutional amendment bill was unanimously passed by both the houses of Parliament and awaits the President’s assent and states’ approval. Jurists, including former Additional Solicitor General of India Indira Jaising and senior advocates Sanjay Hegde and Arvind Datar, differed over the constitutional validity of the bill.