Bihar govt moves SC challenging Patna HC's verdict of quashing 65% reservation law

The state govt, in the top court, said that the HC erroneously set aside the Bihar Reservation of Vacancies in Posts and Services (for Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes) Amendment Act, 2023.
Supreme Court of India
Supreme Court of IndiaFile Photo | PTI

NEW DELHI: Bihar government on Tuesday moved the Supreme Court challenging the Patna High Court's June 20 verdict setting aside the increase in reservation for Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SC/STs) from 50 per cent to 65 in admission to educational institutions and govt jobs.

"The Patna HC verdict is contrary to the law laid down by this Court," lawyer Manish Kumar for Bihar govt said.

A two-judge bench of Patna HC, led by Chief Justice K Vinod Chandran and Justice Harish Kumar, in their judgement had, on June 20, set aside the Bihar Reservation of Vacancies in Posts and Services (for Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes) Amendment Act, 2023 and The Bihar (In admission in Educational Institutions) Reservation (Amendment) Act, 2023.

"These are ultra vires of the constitution and violative of equality clause under Articles 14, 15 and 16 of the Constitution. The State should introspect on the reservation percentage within the 50 per cent limit, and exclude the 'creamy layer' from the benefits " the judges had said in their order.

Now this order was challenged before the top court by the Bihar govt seeking setting aside of the HC verdict.

According to sources in the Supreme Court staff and registry, the appeal of the Bihar state govt would likely to come up for hearing in the SC within a week to two.

The Bihar State govt, in its appeal, a copy accessed by this newspaper, filed before the top court, opposed the pleas in the HC that the quota hike violated the right to equal opportunity for citizens in matters of employment and education.

The state govt, in the top court, said that the HC erroneously set aside the Bihar Reservation of Vacancies in Posts and Services (for Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes) Amendment Act, 2023.

"The State of Bihar is the only State which carried out the exercise and published its Caste Survey Report on Socio-economic and educational conditions of entire population. The State has complied with the binding decisions of this Court and then amended the Reservation Acts," it said.

Thereby, the HC, while passing the verdict failed to appreciate the true nature and import of Article 16(4) of the Constitution of India per the law laid down by this Court in many cases,; including Indira Sawhney, Jaishri Laxmanrao Patil and many other cases, Bihar govt said.

The HC has transcended beyond the legitimate scope of judicial review by substituting “opinion of state” as to the adequacy of representation with its own opinion, it added.

"The Judgment (HC) further failed to appreciate that it is trite law that the 50% ceiling is not an inviolable rule and may be breached in exceptional circumstances. Based on the Caste Census, the govt has rightly concluded that the backward classes were not adequately represented and there was a need to enhance affirmative action to achieve the Constitutional goal of substantive equality, it said. 

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