High Court Rejected the 65% Quota Rule for Bihar

High Court Rejected the 65% Quota Rule for Bihar

Introduction

Recently, the Patna High Court Rejected the 65% Quota Rule for Bihar government which sought to increase the reservation quota for Backward Classes (BC), Extremely Backward Classes (EBC), Scheduled Castes (SC), and Planned Tribes (ST) from 50% to 65% in instructive teach and government occupations.

What is the Background behind High Court Rejected the 65% Quota Rule for Bihar?

  • The Bihar government published gazette notifications in November 2023 increasing the 50% quota for underprivileged classes to 65%.
  • This choice was made in response to a survey report based on caste, which indicated a need for more representation of the BC, EBC, SC, and ST populations.
  • To put this 65% quota into effect, the Bihar Assembly overwhelmingly approved the Bihar Reservation Amendment Bill in November 2023.

What are the Key Arguments in Court Verdict?

  • An attempt was made to overturn the Bihar government’s decision to raise reservations over 50% through a Public Interest Litigation (PIL).
  • The Patna High Court declared that the Supreme Court’s 50% cap in the Indira Sawhney case (1992) was broken by the 65% quota.
  • The state government’s decision, the court said, was based more on the proportionate population of these towns than on “adequate representation” in government posts.
  • The court further observed that the measure has increased the overall reserve to 75%, which is illegal, in addition to the 10% Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) quota.

What are Need for Extended Reservation in Bihar?

  • With an annual per capita income of less than USD 800, or 30% of the national average, Bihar has the lowest in the nation.
  • 12% of the population resides in urban areas, compared to the national average of 35%, and it has the highest fertility rate.
  • Thirty percent of people in the state live below the federal poverty line, and it has the lowest college density in the nation.
  • Although making up 84.46% of the population of Bihar, SC, STs, and Backward Classes are underrepresented in government employment and education.

What is the Reservation?

  • Reservations are a type of positive discrimination designed to shield marginalized groups from historical and social injustice while advancing equality among them.
  • It provides underprivileged groups in society with preferential treatment when it comes to job and educational opportunities.
  • Additionally, it was initially created to end years of prejudice and support marginalized communities.

What are the Pros and Cons of Reservation?

AspectProsCons
Social Justice1. Offers chances to historically marginalized groups (SCs, STs).
2. Corrects previous injustices to level the playing field.
3. Improves representation in government and socioeconomic mobility.
1. May be interpreted as maintaining the caste system.
2. It could not reach the most worthy individuals in the designated groups.
3. Raises concerns regarding efficacy and efficiency
MeritocracyAble to reward achievement in categories that are restricted.May result in the selection of candidates from the general category who are less qualified than those who are.
Representation1. Guarantees a variety of voices in institutions and the government.
2. Encourages both national and social integration.
The existing socioeconomic reality (rich persons inside designated categories) may not accurately reflect this.
Creamy LayerThe rich and “creamy layer” is excluded from protected categories to disadvantage most people.1. Determining and characterizing the creamy layer might be difficult.
2. Additionally, certain factions like the SC and STs are opposed.
Economic UpliftmentBetter employment opportunities for protected groups may result from educational reservations.Doesn’t deal specifically with economic inequality.

Also read: Women’s Reservation Bill for Gender Equality 2023

What Articles of the Indian Constitution Deal with Reservations?

  • The reservation of SC and ST people in Central and State legislatures is covered in Part XVI of the Indian Constitution.
  • The State may enact the following laws under Article 15 of the Constitution:
    • Women and children are given particular consideration under Article 15(3).
    • Special provisions are included in Articles 15(4) and 15(5) for the progress of any socially and educationally disadvantaged citizen classes, as well as for the admission of SCs and STs to private educational institutions.
  • For the progress of any Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) of people other than the classifications listed in paragraphs (4) and (5), Article 15(6) offers specific measures.
  • The reasons for reservation or positive discrimination in government employment are outlined in Article 16.
    • Reservation of appointments or offices for any citizens from a backward class is allowed under Article 16(4).
    • Reservations for Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Scheduled Castes (SC) in promotions are outlined in Article 16(4A).
      • The Structure (77th Correction) Act, 1995 included an unused area (4A) in Article 16 permitting the government to donate reservations for advancements, correcting the Structure.
      • Later, the Constitution (85th Amendment) Act, 2001 changed 16(4A) to provide SC and ST candidates who received reservation significant seniority.
    • States may take into account open reserved seats from a prior year that were intended for SCs and STs under Article 16 (4B).
      • The 81st Constitutional Amendment Act of 2000 introduced it.
    • Reservation of appointments or posts for any Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) is allowed under Article 16(6).
  • Each Panchayat has seats saved for SCs and STs beneath Article 243D.
  • Every district is required to save seats for SCs and STs beneath Article 233T.
  • The constitution’s Article 335 states that the claims of Scheduled Tribes (STs) must be taken into account in a way that maintains the administration’s effectiveness.
  • Specific representation is made possible by Articles 330 and 332, which reserve seats in the State Legislative Assemblies and the Parliament for members of the SC and ST, respectively.

What are Developments Related to Reservations in India?

  • Indra Sawhney Judgment, 1992
    • To protect the constitutionally protected Right to Equality under Article 14, the court maintained the validity of the 27% reservation for OBCs. Still, it imposed a 50% cap unless special circumstances called for the violation.
    • According to the ruling of this nine-judge court, promotions are not covered by Article 16(4) of the Constitution, which permits reservations in appointments.
    • The carryover rule is applicable, however it is limited to 50%. The promos shouldn’t have any reservations.
    • The court clarified that Article 16(4) does not completely supersede Article 16(1). Article 16(4) is an enabling clause, whereas Article 16(1) is a basic right.
    • In addition, the Court ordered that Creamy Layer, an economically affluent member of the Other Backward Classes (OBCs), not be eligible for reservation benefits.
  • M. Nagaraj Judgment, 2006
    • This ruling largely reversed the ruling of Indra Sawhney.
    • It presented the idea of the “creamy layer” in a conditional way to SC/ST populations hoping to advance in government employment.
    • Three requirements were outlined in the judgment to for governments to give SC/STs preference in promotions.
      • Insufficiency of Representation: The state must prove that there is insufficient representation of SCs and STs in promotions.
      • Creamy Layer Exclusion: SCs and STs’ “creamy layer” shouldn’t be eligible for reservation advantages.
      • Preserve Efficiency: The overall administrative efficiency should not be impacted by reservations.
  • Jarnail Singh vs Union of India, 2018
    • In this instance, the SC changed its mind about gathering data.
    • Quantifiable evidence No Longer Needed by States: The SC decided that states were no longer required to gather quantitative evidence to demonstrate the SC/ST community’s backwardness while enforcing reservation quotas for promotions.
    • For members of the SC/ST, it made it easier for the government to impose “accelerated promotion with consequential seniority”.
  • Janhit Abhiyan v. Union of India, 2022
    • The 103rd Amendment to the Constitution was contested. The Court maintained the modification in a 3-2 decision.
    • It made it possible for the government to supplement current reserves for underprivileged socioeconomic groups with reservation advantages determined by economic status.

Way Forward

  • Emphasis on Merit with Flexibility: Encouraging a system that prioritizes flexibility in qualifying marks for SC/ST/OBC candidates in promotions, so giving them a greater opportunity while yet retaining a satisfactory level of competency.
  • Data-Driven Approach: An assessment of the display state of SC/ST/OBC representation at different levels and divisions is required. With the use of this data, specific goals may be set for meeting reservation quotas.
  • Resolving Concerns: Admit that misgivings may have contributed to the promotion of unfit candidates. To close any skill gaps and guarantee that promoted SC, ST, and OBC personnel succeed in their new positions, provide solutions such as in-depth training and mentorship programs.
  • Long-Term Vision: Highlight the fact that reservations are a short-term solution to long-term social fairness and equitable chance for advancement.

Conclusion

The Patna High Court’s rejection of the 65% quota rule in Bihar underscores adherence to the Supreme Court’s 50% cap on reservations set in the Indira Sawhney case. The court emphasized that the state’s attempt to raise the quota to 65% was illegal, focusing more on population proportions than adequate representation, thus maintaining constitutional balance and preventing excessive reservation.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

  • What was the 65% quota rule in Bihar?

    The 65% quota rule in Bihar proposed that 65% of seats in educational institutions and government jobs be reserved for SC, ST, OBC, and EBC communities.

  • Why did the High Court rejected the 65% quota rule for bihar?

    The High Court rejected the 65% quota rule because it exceeded the 50% reservation cap established by the Supreme Court, and there were procedural flaws in its implementation.

  • How will this decision affect students and job seekers in Bihar?

    The decision will require a reassessment of admissions and recruitment processes, leading to uncertainty for students and job seekers who were counting on the increased reservation percentages.

  • What are the next steps for the government of Bihar?

    The government of Bihar may appeal the High Court’s decision in the Supreme Court or explore alternative policies to support marginalized communities.

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