Chhattisgarh HC sets aside state govt’s 58 percent quota; says reservation above 50% is unconstitutional

The Chhattisgarh High Court has set the state government’s 2012 decision to increase the quota to 58 percent for jobs in the government and admissions to schools of higher education. The court ruled that any reservation that exceeds the limit of 50 percent is in violation of the Constitution.

A division bench consisting of Chief Justice Arup Kumar Goswami, Justice P P Sahu, and Justice P P Sahu delivered the verdict on Monday petitions challenging the state’s decision to modify the rules for reservation in 2012 while they were in power. BJP had been in charge, according to Mateen Siddiqui, the counsel for one of the petitioners.

In the 2012 amendment, the quota of Scheduled Castes (SCs) was reduced by 4 percent to 12 percent, and the reservation of Scheduled Tribes (STs) was raised by 12 percent -up from 20 percent to 32 percent. Reservations to Other Backward Classes (OBCs) are maintained at 14 percent the minister said.

Following an amendment to the constitution, total reservation of the state increased up to 58 percent, exceeding the 50 percent maximum limit, he added.

The same year, Guru Ghasidas Sahitya and others challenged the ruling in the high court.

The trial was concluded in July, and the decision was made on Monday, according to Siddiqui.

According to the order, Vinay Kumar Pandey, the counsel representing the petitioners, said that because the reservation was more than 50 and is in violation of the fundamental principle of equality of opportunities under article 16(1) in the Constitution.

“No materials have been placed before this court to justify the impugned amendment brought in by Amendment Act of 2011 and such amendment has been effected breaching 50 percent ceiling without any exercise being undertaken with regard to representation of various classes such as SCs, STs, and OBCs in service,” Pandey declared.

“No exceptional circumstance is made out for breaching the 50 percent ceiling of reservation and the state has brought the amendment as a measure of proportional representation, which is not permissible in law,” Pandey stated.

Advocate General S C Verma submitted that the prevalence of the poverty rate in this state, particularly among SCs is lower compared to national statistics, whereas when it comes to STs there is a significantly more prevalent rate of poverty.

The decision to modify the reservation policy was made (in the year 2012) after taking into account all relevant aspects of the subject through which proportionate reservation has been made in Chhattisgarh cadre posts.

It is claimed that Chhattisgarh is an indigenous majority state so reserving 32 percent posts on service or in educational institutions for STs can’t be questioned the official added.

“On the basis of materials on record, we are of the opinion that no special case is made out for breaching the reservation ceiling limit of 50 percent while increasing the reservation to 58 percent,” the HC stated in the order.

“Holding the reservation above 50 percent is unconstitutional,” the court said in a statement, noting that it is not likely to block admissions made as well as appointments that are made in accordance with the reservation in question.

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