Gujarat Government notification granting 10% quota for EBCs (economically backward classes) in educational institutions, quashed

Gujarat High Court: While dealing with the constitutionality of the Gujarat Unreserved Economically Weaker Sections (Reservation of Seats in Educational Institutions in the State and of Appointments and Posts in services under the State) Ordinance, 2016 providing reservation of seats in the educational institutions in the State and of appointments and posts in the services under the State in favour of the Economically Weaker Sections of unreserved categories, the bench comprising of R. Subhash Reddy CJ and Vipul M. Pancholi, J held the Ordinance unconstitutional and contrary to fundamental rights.

In the present case, Petitioner no.1 passed her 12th Science Semester Examination with 93.75%. She also passed her GCET examination and secured 99% marks out of 120. Petitioner no.2 also completed her 12th Standard and secured 98.97 percentile marks and secured 96.87% in the GCET examination, 2016 and both of them desire to seek admission in the medical/engineering courses. By the time the writ-petition was filed, there was no notification by the Gujarat Admission Committee constituted by the government for making admissions to medical courses. But the Admission Committee issued an advertisement dated 22.5.2016 for making admissions to technical courses. To implement the reservation as mandated in the impugned Ordinance, 10% seats are reserved for economically weaker sections of the unreserved category. After the issuance of the impugned Ordinance, the 1st respondent-State passed and issued Resolution No. SSP/122016/271436/A, dated 6.5.2016. It was stated in the petition that there was no reservation till last year for economically weaker sections of the unreserved category for admission to educational institutions and for employment and posts under the State services, and by the impugned Ordinance which is arbitrary and illegal, they are sought to be denied 10% of the available seats for the purpose of admission to educational institutions.

Following issues raised in the Petition which were specifically answered by the Court

Issue 1: Whether, the allocation of 10% seats in educational institutions in the State and for making appointments and posts in the services under the State in favour of economically weaker sections of unreserved category, impugned Ordinance No. 1/2016 is a reservation or a classification?

Allocation of 10% of seats for admission in educational institutions in the State and in appointments and posts in the services under the State in favour of economically weaker sections of unreserved category in the impugned Ordinance is reservation only, but not classification.

Issue 2 & 4:  If it is to be held that such allocation is reservation of 10% of seats, whether the State is justified in providing reservation in favour of economically weaker sections of unreserved category only on the basis of economic criterion and whether, the State is justified in issuing the impugned Ordinance providing 10% of reservation in favour of economically weaker sections of unreserved category, and exceeded the ceiling limit of 50% of available seats?

Reservation of 10% seats based on economic criteria by exceeding the limit of 50% is illegal and contrary to the ratio laid down in Indra Sawhney vs. Union of India, (1992) Supp 3 SCC 217.

Issue 3: Whether, the State is justified in issuing the impugned Ordinance providing reservation of 10% of available seats for admissions and appointments in services in favour of economically weaker sections of unreserved category, without carrying out any detailed scientific and technical impact assessment study by the experts and without collecting quantifiable and empirical data?

The impugned Ordinance is based on the recommendations of the High Powered Committee which has not done any scientific analysis nor did it do any empirical study for the purpose of providing reservation to the extent of 10% in the educational institutions and in appointments and posts in services under the State to the weaker sections of unreserved category

The Court while quashing and setting aside the impugned Ordinance, issued by the State Government declared the same as unconstitutional and contrary to fundamental rights guaranteed to the petitioners under Articles 13(2), 14, 15 and 16 of the Constitution of India. Consequently, it was also directed by the Court that if any admissions are proposed by notifying 10% seats for weaker section of unreserved category under the impugned Ordinance, they shall be treated as not reserved and admissions to be made by treating such quota in unreserved category.

[Dayaram Khemkaran Verma v. State of Gujarat, 2016 SCC OnLine Guj 1821, decided on 4.08.2016]

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