Patna High Court Cancels 65% Reservation Decision in Bihar: Government Extended SC-ST, OBC-EBC Reservation Limits

The Patna High Court on Thursday dismissed the Bihar government’s decision to increase reservation quotas for SC-ST, OBC, and other backward classes to 65% in educational institutions and government jobs. 

This decision had faced challenges in the High Court through petitions filed by Gaurav Kumar and others. The hearing on these petitions was completed on March 11, 2024, and the verdict was delivered today. Chief Justice V. Chandran presided over the bench that conducted extensive hearings on Gaurav Kumar’s petitions and others.

Patna High Court on Thursday cancelled the decision of 65 percent reservation.

Why the High Court Cancelled the Decision

The petitioners argued that as per Article 16(4) of the Constitution, reservations should be based on representation of backward classes in terms of social and educational backwardness rather than numerical quotas. They contended that the Bihar government’s legislation violated Article 16(1) and Article 15(1) of the Indian Constitution. 

Article 16(1) guarantees equality of opportunity in matters relating to employment or appointment under the state, for all citizens. Article 15(1) prohibits discrimination on any grounds. Thus, the High Court concluded that the decision to increase reservation to 65% was unconstitutional and canceled it accordingly.

Nitish Kumar’s Announcement in November

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar announced in the Bihar Legislative Assembly on November 7, 2023, that the state government would expand the ambit of reservations. Initially set at 50%, the reservations were proposed to be increased to 65% or beyond, with the total reservation ceiling raised from 60% to 75%. 

Following the Chief Minister’s announcement, a cabinet meeting was promptly convened, where the proposal received cabinet approval within two hours. Subsequently, on the fourth day of the winter session, November 9, the proposal was passed by both houses of the legislature, marking its enactment into law.

In November 2023, Nitish Kumar had announced to give 65 percent reservation.

Increase in Reservation Implemented on November 21, 2023

On November 21, 2023, Bihar expanded the scope of reservations to reach 75%. The state increased the reservation quota by 15%, now providing 65% reservation benefits to SC, ST, EBC, and OBC categories in both jobs and educational institutions. This provision came into effect following the presentation of Bihar government’s budget.

During the fourth day of the winter session of the Bihar Legislative Assembly on November 9, 2023, the Reservation Amendment Bill 2023 was introduced and unanimously passed in both houses. The bill includes provisions to increase the reservation quota to 75%. The state’s principal opposition party, BJP, supported the bill. Upon arrival from Delhi, Governor Arlekar promptly gave his assent to the Reservation Bill 2023.

High Court Refuses to Stay Reservation on December 1, 2023

During the hearing of a petition challenging the New Reservation Bill in the Patna High Court, the bench led by the Chief Justice had directed the state government to respond by January 12. The bench had rejected the petitioner’s demand for an injunction against the implementation of the new bill, which they deemed unconstitutional. 

Chief Justice noted during the proceedings that a stay could not be granted at this stage. The court had instructed the Bihar government to submit its arguments in defense. The date for delivering the court’s decision was also discussed during the hearing.

The petitioner argued that the increase in reservation based on caste enumeration rather than social and educational criteria violates the right to equality.

Niyati Rao

Niyati Rao is a seasoned writer and avid consumer who specializes in crafting informative and engaging articles and product reviews. With a passion for research and a knack for finding the best deals, Niyati enjoys helping readers make informed decisions about their purchases.