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Chhattisgarh High Court set aside the decision of the state government to increase the quota to 58 per cent; Reservation above 50 per cent unconstitutional:

The Chhattisgarh High Court quashed the state government’s 2012 decision to increase reservation in government jobs and admission to educational institutions to 58 per cent and held that reservation beyond the 50 per cent limit was unconstitutional.

A division bench of Chief Justice Arup Kumar Goswami and Justice PP Sahu on Monday pronounced the verdict on the petitions challenging the state government’s decision to amend the reservation rules in 2012. BJP Mateen Siddiqui, counsel for one of the petitioners, said, was in power.

As per the 2012 amendment, the quota for Scheduled Castes (SC) was reduced by four per cent to 12 per cent, while the reservation for Scheduled Tribes (ST) was increased from 20 per cent to 32 per cent by 12 per cent. He said the reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBC) was kept unchanged at 14 per cent.

He said that after the amendment, the cumulative reservation in the state crossed the 50 per cent limit to 58 per cent.

In the same year, the Guru Ghasidas Sahitya Samiti and other petitioners challenged it in the High Court.

Siddiqui said the hearing of the case was completed in July and the order was passed on Monday.

As per the order, Vinay Kumar Pandey, counsel for the petitioners, submitted that the reservation being exceeded 50 per cent, it violated the principles of equality of opportunity under Article 16(1) of the Constitution.

“No material has been laid before this Court to justify the amendment brought by the Amendment Act of 2011 and such amendment shall be made without any exercise being done with respect to the representation of different classes like SCs, STs and SCs”. The limit of percentage has been violated for OBCs in service,” Pandey said.

“No extraordinary circumstance has been created to break the 50 per cent limit of reservation and the state has brought amendments as a measure of proportional representation, which is not permissible in law,” Pandey said.

Advocate General SC Verma submitted that the incidence of poverty among SCs in the state is less as compared to the national figures while the incidence of poverty in case of STs is much higher.

The decision to amend the reservation policy was taken (in 2012) keeping in view the relevant aspects of the case by which proportional reservation was introduced in Chhattisgarh cadre posts.

It has been submitted that Chhattisgarh is a tribal-dominated state and therefore, it cannot be mistaken in reserving 32 per cent posts in service or educational institutions for Scheduled Tribes, he said.

“Based on the material on record, we are of the opinion that no special case is made out for violating the reservation limit of 50 per cent by increasing the reservation to 58 per cent,” the HC said in the order.

“It is unconstitutional to keep the reservation above 50 per cent,” the high court said, adding that it is not inclined to interfere with the admissions taken and the appointments made on the basis of the impugned reservation.

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