SC opens window for job quota to exceed 50%

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Jul 15 2010, 04:15am hrs
Opening a window for state governments to legislate for increasing the quotas for reservation in jobs and education, the Supreme Court on Tuesday gave Tamil Nadu and Karnataka the liberty to enhance reservation for Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes from the current 50%, provided they produce quantifiable data to support their claim. In a decision that veers away from the Supreme Courts 1993 ruling in the Mandal case to cap reservations at 50%, a Bench of Chief Justice of India SH Kapadia, Justices KS Radhakrishnan and Swatanter Kumar directed Tamil Nadu and Karnataka to re-visit the states quota laws with their Commissions for Backward Classes.

Both states are now free to place their data before the respective backward commission, which has been given a years time by the Supreme Court to file its recommendations before the state governments.

Tamil Nadu State Backward Commission has to find out if they have to exceed the 50% quota and provide data of records of population and place them before the competent commission. State needs to re-visit the subject, the Bench observed.

The state government is directed to file evidentiary data that it has regarding the Backward Classes enumeration in the state and place the same with the Tamil Nadu State Backward Commission. The Commission will examine all the data and make necessary recommendations on what should be the extent of reservation... Whether it should be at 50% or exceed 50%, and if so by what percentage, Tamil Nadu Advocate General PS Raman explained the implications of Tuesdays order.

In Karnatakas case, the court was more direct: The state is so advised to fix beyond the 50% limit if it has qualified data to support it.

The validity of both laws will be left open until both state governments finally decide on their respective panels recommendations.

The Tamil Nadu Reservation Act of 1993 was included in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution, preventing judicial review. But its immunity suffered a blow when a Constitution Bench in 2008 held there could not be a blanket immunity for laws in the Ninth Schedule.