SC sets aside Rajasthan HC's stay on OBC reservation bill but restricts quota limit at 50%

The Supreme Court has set aside Rajasthan High Court's stay order on the OBC reservation bill, 2017 that was tabled during the Monsoon Session of the Rajasthan Assembly. However, the apex court has also reiterated that the state cannot cross the 50 percent cap on reservation until the writ petition is decided by the high court.

The Rajasthan High Court had earlier restrained the state government from implementing the provisions in the OBC reservation bill, 2017 aimed at increasing the ceiling of the quota beyond 50 percent, a move that would benefit the agitating Gujjar and four other communities in the state.

The high court had directed the state government to take prior permission of the apex court before implementing the new provisions for increasing the quota ceiling sought to be introduced by the bill.

However, taking note of Rajasthan government's plea, the apex court on Wednesday said that a court cannot set aside legislative process that would lead to blocking of the bill. However, the Supreme Court has reiterated that the state government cannot increase the quota ceiling beyond 50 percent, as it is standard for every state in the country and no state can breach this quota ceiling.

According to TV reports, the apex court also said that if the state government wants to bring in any such provision, it will have to substantiate with data that would prove the need for the increase in the quota for the OBCs including Gujjars.

The Rajasthan High Court while ordering a stay on the OBC bill had also observed that the state government wanted to take a populist view and try to use it as a shield to increase reservation.

The division bench of the high court comprising Justice KS Jhaveri and Justice VS Vyasbench had criticised the government's approach, saying it must proceed to get the Constitution amended instead of bringing piecemeal legislation.

What's the issue?

The Rajasthan Assembly had in October passed a bill to raise reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) from 21 percent to 26 percent with a voice vote following which the House was adjourned sine die.

The Rajasthan Backward Classes (Reservation of Seats in Educational Institutions in the State and of Appointment and Posts in Services under the State) Bill, 2017, proposes five percent increase in the OBC quota.

It was tabled during the Monsoon Session in the wake of widespread agitation by the Gujjar community demanding reservation under the backward classes category.

The bill raises reservation for Gujjars and four other backward communities in Rajasthan from 21 percent to 26 percent. The beneficiary communities were earlier grouped as Special Backward Classes (SBCs).

Ganga Sai Sharma, a petitioner in the case submitted that the state government is keen to implement the provisions in the bill, however, it will create complications.

He also said it will multiply litigation as the government will give employment against vacancies which will create third party rights.

Therefore, it is necessary that the state government be restrained from giving effect to the amended provision in the bill to increase from the OBC reservation ceiling beyond 50 percent for the benefit of the Gujjar and four other communities.

With inputs from PTI

Updated Date: Nov 15, 2017 18:35 PM

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