The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the governments of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka to revisit the laws providing quotas in excess of 50 per cent to reserved categories in government jobs and educational institutions.
The apex court, however, allowed the continuation of its interim orders for one more year concerning the two states. It had made operational the 69 per cent quota in Tamil Nadu and restricted Karnataka from exceeding the 50 per cent ceiling as laid down in the Mandal Commission case.
A bench comprising Chief Justice S H Kapadia and Justices K S Radhakrishnan and Swatanter Kumar pronounced separate orders by disposing of two batches of petitions and made it clear that it was not expressing any opinion on the validity of the laws.
The first batch of petitions had challenged the Tamil Nadu Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Reservation of seats in educational institutions and of appointment or posts in the services under the state) Act, 1993, which provided 69 per cent reservations.
The second batch of petitions had challenged the Karnataka Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes (Reservation of Seats in Educational Institutions and Appointments or Posts in the Service under the State) Act, 1994, which provided 73 per cent reservations.
While dealing with the petitions on Tamil Nadu quota law, the bench said the government will place all quantifiable data available with it before the State Backward Class Commission which will revisit the issue of reservation.
Meanwhile, the bench said the interim orders passed by it protecting 69 per cent quota in jobs and appointments will continue for a year.
The court noted that certain parameters laid down by the apex court in the Mandal Commission judgment will have to be taken into account by the Tamil Nadu Backward Class Commission if the government wanted to exceed the 50 per cent ceiling.
Karnataka, which through an interim order was restrained from exceeding the 50 per cent quota, was asked to re-examine its law based on the fresh data if it wanted to provide reservations beyond the ceiling.
While disposing of the petitions, the bench noted that since the matter was brought before the apex court, there had been two amendments in the Constitution pertaining to Articles 15 and 16, providing reservations for OBCs in higher educational institutions and quota for backward classes in promotion respectively.