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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 25 June 2024

Public interest litigation filed before Patna High Court against Bihar quota hike laws

Petitioners cite violation of fundamental rights and upper ceiling of 50 per cent set by Supreme Court on reservation

Dev Raj Patna Published 28.11.23, 05:26 AM
Patna High Court.

Patna High Court. File picture

A public interest litigation has been filed before the Patna High Court challenging the recent laws brought by the Bihar government to increase the quota for the Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST), Other Backward Castes (OBC) and Extremely Backward Castes (EBC) from 50 per cent to 65 per cent.

The PIL has cited violation of the fundamental rights and the upper ceiling of 50 per cent set by the Supreme Court on reservation while challenging the constitutional validity of The Bihar Reservation of Vacancies in Posts and Services (For Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes) (Amendment) Act 2023, and The Bihar (In Admission in Educational Institutions) Reservation (Amendment) Act 2023 that hikes the reservation for SC, ST, OBC and EBC in state government jobs and educational institutions.

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Petitioners Gaurav Kumar and Naman Shreshtha filed the PIL, which was served by their advocate Alok Kumar to advocate-general P.K. Shahi’s office on Friday (November 24). It also seeks immediate stay on the implementation of the two acts.

The bicameral state legislature had unanimously passed the bills during the winter session held earlier this month. They became laws following the assent of governor Rajendra Arlekar and notification in the state gazette on Tuesday (November 21).

With the amendments in place, the SCs will now get 20 per cent, STs 2 per cent, EBCs 25 per cent and OBCs 18 per cent reservation in the state. Over and above these, the economically weaker sections (EWS) get 10 per cent reservation, thereby taking the overall reservation in Bihar to 75 per cent.

The petitioners have contended that the quota has been hiked on the basis of the caste-based survey, which counted the castes under 215 heads, pegging Bihar’s population at 13.07 crore in which 36.02 per cent were EBC, 27.13 per cent OBC, 19.65 per cent SC, 15.52 per cent general category castes and 1.68 per cent ST.

However, the Constitution through Article 16(4) mandates reservations to be based on adequate representation of the socially and economically backward classes rather than their proportional representation within a specific state.

The PIL mentions that the acts violated Article 15 of the Constitution, which prohibits discrimination by the State against citizens on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them, as well as, Article 16, which mandates equality of opportunity in matters of public employment. “The 2023 Acts passed by the respondent state violate the upper ceiling of 50 per cent for reservation as set by the Supreme Court in the Indira Sawhney versus the Union of India case...,the petition asserts.

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