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Bihar moves Supreme Court against Patna HC order to set aside quota hike

By Alok Mohit and Neeraj Kumar 

Patna: The Bihar government has moved the Supreme Court against the Patna High Court order striking down the state’s quota laws that provided 65% reservation to Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), Extremely Backward Classes (EBCs) and Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in government jobs and educational institutions.

In its special leave petition (SLP), the Bihar government argued that the Supreme Court had dismissed the demand of states, including Bihar, to send significant cases to a larger bench, as initiated in the Indra Sawhney case, which had capped the overall reservation at 50 per cent.

The SLP contended that based on the Indra Sawhney case judgment, the criteria for breaching the 50 per cent reservation ceiling should be based on social considerations, not merely geographical factors. The Bihar government argued that it was the only state to have conducted a comprehensive caste survey and published its report on the social, economic, and educational status of the entire population. The state asserted that it adhered to previous Supreme Court decisions and subsequently amended its reservation acts based on this data.

The government argued that the High Court had erred in assuming that adequate representation for the backward classes was justified solely because they constituted 68.52 per cent of the total population of the marginalised communities, stating that there was no need to increase reservations.

The Patna High Court had on June 20 quashed the Bihar Reservation of Vacancies in Posts and Services (Amendment) Act, 2023, and the Bihar (In Admission in Educational Institutions) Reservation (Amendment) Act, 2023, terming the two laws as “unconstitutional and violative of the equality clauses under Articles 14, 15, and 16 of the Constitution.

Earlier in November 2023, the Bihar legislature had given nod to the two reservation bills that amended laws to increase the quota for Backward Classes, Extremely Backward Classes and SC, STs from 50 per cent to 65 per cent. The enactment of new laws had made Bihar the state with the highest reservation percentage among larger states, reaching a total of 75 per cent.

 

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