PIL against 65 percent reservation, Bihar High Court issues notice to state govt

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By Sami Ahmad

PATNA –The Patna High Court refused to pass a stay order after hearing a PIL on the recent amendments made in the laws to increase the reservation to 65 percent for SC (Scheduled Castes), ST (Scheduled Tribes), EBC (Extremely Backward Class) and BC (Backward Class) sections in Bihar government’s jobs and admission in the government institution.

However, the court directed the state government to file its response on the same PIL challenging the constitutional validity of the increase in quota.

Apart from this PIL, writ petitions have also been filed in batches challenging the same notification. It seems that after the caste survey, the increased reservation would also be bone of contention among the supporters and opponents of reservation. Though the BJP is supporting the increased reservation, it is alleged that the party is trying to put legal hurdles for its core upper caste support base. It is observed that BJP cannot afford to oppose the increased reservation openly.
The state government has already asked the central government to incorporate the hiked reservation in the 9th schedule of the constitution, so that it was guaranteed immunity from legal challenge.

On Friday, a division bench of Chief Justice K Vinod Chandran and Justice Rajiv Roy admitted the PIL filed by two advocates Gaurav Kumar and Naman Shrestha. The matter will be heard on January 12.

The Bihar government had notified the increase in reservation in jobs and admission on November 21. According to the notification, the threshold of accumulative reservation was increased to 65 percent for SC, ST, EBC and BC from an earlier 50 percent. There is a reservation of ten percent for the EWS (Economically Weaker Section). That takes the total reservation to seventy-five percent.
In the short winter session of Bihar Legislature in November, the result of the caste survey was tabled by the Bihar government.

After tabling the Bihar Caste Survey, two bills – Bihar Reservation of Vacancies in Posts and Services Amendment Bill and the Bihar Reservation (Admission In Educational Institutions) Amendment Bill – were passed to increase the quota.

These bills have proposed a hike in the quota for Scheduled Castes from 16 to 20 percent, for Scheduled Tribes from 1 to 2 percent, for extremely backward class from 18 to 25 percent and for the other backward classes from 15 to 18 percent.

The petitioners have challenged the increase in reservations alleging that such an increase was a violation of the Supreme Court judgement and it was arbitrary. The petitioners contended that the basis for the increase in the quota was the increased population of the related sections which is not the criterion for granting reservation as mentioned in the Constitution.

While the case is being heard in the court there is a political war of words going on in the state. The BJP member of Rajya Sabha Sushil Kumar Modi has said that his party supported the increase in reservations but to defame it, a PIL was deliberately filed. On the other hand, the senior leader of Janata Dal (United) and minister Vijay Kumar Chaudhary said that yet another conspiracy against Nitish government failed as the High Court refused to pass a stay order on the increased reservation.

Mr. Chaudhary said that one of the senior leaders had told that the amendment in law for increased reservation would be challenged and the same was done quickly.

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