2 May 2023 3:12 AM GMT
In a major relief to the Chhattisgarh government, the Supreme Court of India on Monday stayed the Chhattisgarh High Court’s order declaring the state government’s move of giving 58 per cent reservation as ‘unconstitutional’. A bench of Justices BR Gavai, Vikram Nath, and Sanjay Karol was hearing a couple of pleas challenging the judgment of the Chhattisgarh High Court...
In a major relief to the Chhattisgarh government, the Supreme Court of India on Monday stayed the Chhattisgarh High Court’s order declaring the state government’s move of giving 58 per cent reservation as ‘unconstitutional’.
A bench of Justices BR Gavai, Vikram Nath, and Sanjay Karol was hearing a couple of pleas challenging the judgment of the Chhattisgarh High Court striking down the Chhattisgarh Lok Seva (Anusuchit Jatiyon, Jan Jatiyon aur Anya Pichhade Vargon ke Liye Arakshan) (Sanshodhan) Adhiniyam, 2011. By this 2011 act, the original act enacted in 1994 was amended and 58 per cent reservation was provided to scheduled castes (SC), scheduled tribes (ST), and other backward classes (OBC) in public services and posts and to certain educational institutions established, maintained or aided by the state government (SC- 12%; ST-32%; OBC - 14%).
While issuing notice on the state government’s plea, the bench also granted interim protection to the policy of 58 per cent reservation. The state of Chhattisgarh was represented by senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, and Sumeer Sodhi, advocate-on-record and standing counsel for the state. The counsel informed the bench that the high court’s decision had interfered with the ongoing process of recruitment. On the strength of their submissions, the apex court bench allowed the state government to proceed with the recruitments on the basis of the policy that the high court struck down as ‘unconstitutional’, as an interim arrangement.
Not only this, the bench also instructed the state government to specify in its orders that the outcome of the ongoing recruitment process would be subject to the court’s final verdict with respect to the constitutionality of the 2011 amendment. The bench then directed this set of appeals to be listed in July.
Under the scanner is a decision of the Chattisgarh High Court to strike down a 2011 amendment that provided 58 per cent reservation to SCs, STs, and OBCs in recruitment and entrance examinations in the state. This verdict was delivered last year by a division bench of the high court comprising Chief Justice AK Goswami and Justice PP Sahu.
Through the amendment, the quota for reserved classes in government jobs and admissions in educational institutions was scaled to 58 per cent, with 12 per cent for scheduled castes, 32 per cent for scheduled tribes, and 14 per cent for other backward classes. However, the high court held that no exceptional circumstance had been made out for breaching the reservation ceiling limit of 50 per cent. While quashing the reservation policy, the bench observed:
“We are of the opinion that no special case is made out for breaching the reservation ceiling limit of 50 per cent while increasing the reservation to 58 per cent. Inadequacy of representation in services under the State or inadequacy of representation in educational institutions is relevant to the extent reservation is sought to be pegged below 50 per cent but if the ceiling is to be crossed, then inadequacy in representation cannot be the sole determining factor and there have to be exceptional circumstances.”
Ultimately, the high court allowed the batch of writ petitions challenging the 2011 amendment and quashed the said amendment on the ground that the government’s policy was contrary to the 50 per cent reservation ceiling limit set by the top court in its landmark Indra Sawhney judgement. “[The Indra Sawhney rule] can be breached only in certain extraordinary situations and in exceptional cases. It was also observed that such power has to be exercised with extreme caution," the court said in the judgement.
Yogesh Kumar Thakur v. Guru Ghasidas Sahitya Avam Sanskriti Academy & Ors. | Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 18816-18817 of 2022 and another connected matter.
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