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In this blogpost, Priyanka Kansara, Student, National Law University, Jodhpur writes about the reservation policy in educational institutions in India.

The Constitution of India provides for the Casteless and Classless Society, but for the upliftment of each and every Caste in the Educational Sector, the Legislature has provided Legislation named the Central Educational Institution (Reservation in Admission) Act 2006 (hereinafter referred as the Act 2006), the objective of which is to provide for the Reservation of the Students belonging to the Schedule Castes, the Schedule Tribes, the Other Backward Classes of Citizens, to certain Central Educational Institutions established, maintained and aided by the Central Government[1].

A Person can get the benefits of the Reservation in Centrally recognized Educational Institutions if he belongs to OBC, which is defined under section 2 (g) of the Act as the class or classes of Citizens who are socially or economically backward, and recognized and so determined by the Central Government[2]. The concept of centrally recognized Educational Institutions is mentioned under Section 2 (d) of the Act, which says that; Centrally Educational Institutions means-

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  • A University established or incorporated by or under a Central Act;
  • An Institutions of National importance set up by an Act of Parliament;
  • An Institution declared as a deemed university under Section 3 of the University Grant Commission Act 1956 and maintained by or receiving aid from the Central Government;
  • An Institution maintained by or receiving aid from the Central Government, whether directly or indirectly, and affiliated to an institutions referred to in clause (i) or clause (ii), or a constituent unit of an Institution referred to in clause (iii);
  • An Educational Institution registered under Societies Registration Act 1860.[3]

Reservation of seats in Central Educational Institutions[4]

The Concept of 27% reservation for the OBCs was coined in the case of Indra Sawhney vs. Union of India[5], popularly known as Mandal Commission Case. In this Case, Justice B. P. Jeevan Reddy states that Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity was a battle cry of the French Revolution; and it is also the motto of our Constitution with the concept of Social-Economical and Political Justices.[6]

Certain terms of the Mandal Commission were prescribed in this Case[7];

  • To determine the criteria for defining the Socially and Educationally backward ‘
  • To recommend steps to be taken for the advancement of the socially and educationally backward classes of citizens so identified;
  • To examine the desirability or otherwise making provisions for the reservation of the appointments or post in favor of such backward classes of citizens which are not adequately represented in Public Services or posts in connections with the affairs of the Union or of any state.[8]

The Case of A. Peeriakaruppan etc. v. State of Tamil Nadu[9] was referred in this Case, where it was stated that Caste has always been recognized as a Class; the statement was backed by the Apex Court Judgment in Minor P. Rajendran vs. the State of Madras[10], wherein Hon’ble Supreme Court has held that Caste is also a Class of Citizens within the meaning of Article 15 (4) of the Constitution.

In Indra Sawhney Judgment[11], the Court has artistically taken the Historical Phenomenon behind the evolution of Backward Class that motivation for the use of expression ‘backward class’ might have come from a feeling to accommodate and benefit those who were deprived from entering into services due to social and economic conditions amongst Hindus. However, it is not the whole truth; the reality is that Backwardness is not defined by Religion, but by Caste as a ‘Class’, which is Socially and Economically Backward because Articles 15 (4) & 16 (4) do not prescribe for Backward Caste, but Backward Class[12]. Though, nowadays, Social-economical backwardness is not the only criteria; Educational backwardness should also be seen. Clause (4) of the Article 15 provides that nothing in this Article or, in clause (2) of Article 29 shall prevent the state from making any special provision for the advancement of any Socially or Economically Backward classes of Citizens or, for the Schedule Castes or Schedule Tribes[13]

Mandal Commission has prescribed the Class system in India by stating that the status of a person is determined by his birth; it means that the yardstick of backwardness in any society is, Economic status as per the spirit of the Constitution but in India, Society had made caste as a sole hierarchy of the Social ranking and uses the caste system as the basic frame of reference.[14] (Indra Sawhney Case)

Criteria for having your Caste in ‘the List[15]’-

List is defined in the National Commission for Backward Classes Act 1993 under section 2 (c)[16], which says that List means list prepared by the Central Government from time to time for purposes of making provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of backward classes of citizens which, in the opinion of that Government, are not adequately represented in the services under the Government of India and any local or other authority within the territory of India or under the control of the Government of India.

In the Case of Ram Singh vs. Union of India[17], wherein the issue was to include Jats in the Central List for 9 States i.e. Haryana, NCT of Delhi, Bharatpur and Dholpur districts of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand[18]. The Court had quashed the Petition as the Caste did not fulfill the criteria for the Backward Class in all these above-mentioned States as for having a Caste in Backward List, the Caste as a Class must fulfill the criteria of being Backward i.e. Socially Backward, Educationally Backward, and Economically Backward as well. The Government should consider each and every thing before considering any Caste for the List; occupation, educational background, their representation in Government Services and other Posts, moreover their representation be in proportionate to the population, should also be considered.


Caste as a Class denotes a pictorial phenomena of it, i.e. it shows its Social, Educational, Economical Status; it also shows their representation in several places i.e. in Services and Job Posts, Educational Institutions etc In the Case of State of Andhra Pradesh vs. P. Sagar[19], the Apex Court has stated that ‘‘class’ means homogeneous section of the people grouped together because of certain likenesses or common traits and who are identifiable by some common attributes such as status, rank, occupation, residence in locality, race, religion and the like. In determining whether a particular section forms a class, caste cannot be excluded altogether. But in the determination of a class a test solely based on the caste or community cannot also be accepted.[20]

The General Principle says that if the caste of that person is mentioned in the Central OBC List, then it will surely enable him to avail the benefits of the reservation in Government Services, posts & Educational Institutions under the aegis of Central Government, but for getting the benefits of the reservation in any other state (posts or other benefits under the State Government) one’s caste also has to be under the state’s OBC List. If the person’s Caste is mentioned under the State OBC List; it enables him to avail the benefits under the aegis of State Government.

How the proceeding concerning the Reservation in Educational Institutions will go on, is one thing, but whether we need Reservation in Education is the another one. Education means merit and to get recognition of merit does not depend upon the reservation. However, to give recognition to certain Class in Education sector sometimes gives them the motivation to do well in the Intellectual arena. But there is another drawback in this sector, as sometimes the ‘deserving candidate’ gets defeated by this Reservation Policy. The corruption has also expanded its room, which endangers the whole Education system and that ultimately causes harm to the Basic Structure of the Constitution i.e. Justice, Equity and Rule of Law.

We need to understand the foundational need to have the reservation in the Educational Institutions, as to who all are the beneficiaries of this Reservation; whether they are getting the proper advantages of it; whether in the way towards the Reservation; the Reservation Policy should not be weighed upon the Others’ Fundamental Rights.

[1] The Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act 2006 (hereinafter referred as the Act 2006) (No. 5 of 2007), 3rd January 2007, Ministry of Law & Justice, (accessed on December 15, 2015).

[2] id, s. 2 (g), the Act 2006.

[3] id, s. 2 (d), the Act 2006.

[4] id, s. 3, the Act 2006.

[5] AIR 1993 SC 477.

[6] ibid, Para 3.

[7] ibid, Para 12.

[8]Government of India Report of the Backward Classes Commission, First Part, Vol. I, 1980, p. vii, (accessed on December 15, 2015).

[9] AIR 1071 SC 2303.

[10] AIR 1968 SC 1012.

[11] Supra Note 5.

[12] R. Chitralekha & Anr. vs. State of Mysore, AIR 1964 SC 1823.

[13] Ram Singh & Ors. vs. Union of India, Writ Petition (Civil) No. 274 of 2014, (accessed on December 15, 2015).

[14] As cited in the Case of Indra Sawhney vs. Union of India, Supra Note 5.

[15] The National Commission for Backward Classes Act 1993: Act No. 27 of 1993 (hereinafter referred as the Act 1993), 2nd April 1993, Ministry of Law, Justice & Company Affairs, (accessed on December 15, 2015).


[17] Supra Note 13.

[18] id, p. 67.

[19] AIR 1968 SC 1379; (accessed on December 15, 2015).



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