Wholesale Reservation Frustrates the Very Purpose of Reservation, Violates Article 14: SC
The Supreme Court has said that state governments should not indulge in wholesale reservation, as it frustrates the very purpose of reservation and it has been held to be unconstitutional and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution.
A bench comprising justices Dinesh Maheshwari, who demitted office earlier this month, and Sudhanshu Dhulia said: "A wholesale reservation as we have seen is not serving any purpose rather it frustrates the very purpose of the reservation. This shall be kept in mind by the authorities while taking a decision in this matter, which shall be done within two months from today.
"We make it clear that though reservation in favour of residents is permissible, yet reservation to the extent of 75% of the total seats makes it a wholesale reservation, which has been held in Pradeep Jain (1984) to be unconstitutional and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India."
The top court's judgement came on an appeal filed by a training institute (appellant) challenging Madhya Pradesh High Court order, which dismissed its plea against the government policy dated 12 May 2022 (Admission Process and Guiding Principles 2022-2023) on the ground that it was violative of Articles 14, 15 and 19(1)(g) of the Constitution, as the government had made 75% of the seats reserved for the residents of Madhya Pradesh which is not permissible in law.
The appellant-institute (Veena Vadini Teachers Training Institute), submitted figures of past two years before the court, where although the entire 25% seats allocated to the "outside" candidates have been filled, but almost all of the 75% of seats, reserved for the residents of Madhya Pradesh, have remained unfilled.
The case of the appellant, therefore, is that 75% of the seats which have been reserved for permanent residents of Madhya Pradesh, remain vacant due to the non-availability of residential candidates and as such the appellant may be permitted to fill these seats from outside candidates.
One of the courses, which is run by the appellant-institute in Gwalior, is called B.Ed (part time), which is designed to impart B.Ed training to in-service teachers.
The bench noted that in Pradeep Jain matter (1984), the top court had cautioned against large scale reservation under the head i.e., residents of the state, and termed it as 'wholesale' reservations.
In the present case, the bench said the state government is within its right to reserve seats in educational institutions for its permanent residents; however, the only question remains about the extent of this reservation.
In context of past two years data on filling of seats in the institute, the bench said a wholesale reservation for residents of Madhya Pradesh would also be violative of the law laid down in the case of Pradeep Jain (1984).
The bench said: "Since the academic session for the year 2022-23 has already commenced, we would refrain from interfering in the matter but we direct the State of Madhya Pradesh to reappreciate this entire aspect, in the light of what we have said abovea... Keeping 75 per cent of the seats reserved for the residents of Madhya Pradesh is too high a percentage."
The bench said it's not serving any purpose; therefore the number of seats from the next academic year shall be fixed again for residents and non-residents, keeping the observations made by it in this order.
"The state government may examine the data of the last few years, in order to come to a realistic finding as to what should be the extent of these reservations."
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