Patna– On Thursday, the Patna High Court quashed the Bihar government order to enhance the reservation quota from 50 to 65 per cent for the SCs, STs, Extremely Backward Classes and OBCs for educational and employment admissions. This act was carried out following the legislation by the Bihar legislative assembly, led by the current Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Through the Bihar Reservation of Vacancies in Posts and Services (for SC, ST, EBC, and OBC) Amendment Bill and the Bihar (In Admission in Educational Institutions) Reservation Amendment Bill, 2023. Both the bills were passed in November last year and were followed by a gazette notification on 21st November 2023.

According to the bill, further enhancement was made to augment the reserved percentage for these groups from fifty per cent to sixty-five per cent, meaning that only thirty-five per cent of the total seats were to be open to all other categories of students. However, the above move was discarded in the high court by the petitioner with the argument that the increase went beyond the legislative competence of the state and was monumental to the unequal right.

The high court has 12 division benches, and consequently, a division bench of the high court comprising Chief Justice K Vinod Chandran has discussed the petitions to reach this verdict. Advocate Dinu Kumar, the counsel representing the petitioners in the case, revealed that the court had reserved its judgment on the matter on 11-03-2024 after a petition by one Gaurav Kumar and others and proceeded to provide the judgment on Thursday.

The counsel for the state, Advocate General PK Shahi, justified the government’s decision, saying that the reservations were made in the interest of these castes and tribes as there was inadequate representation of these lacks and not that it was in the proportionate of the population. However, the court has considered the legislation to be unsustainable based on the view of his arguments.

Further, Advocate Kumar pointed out another flaw in the government’s decision-making by stating that the end of the 10% quota for the EWS went against Section 15(6)(b) of Article 14 of the Constitution. He also mentioned the latest case regarding the caste census in Bihar, which is already pending in three different courts on survey-related issues.