Reservation Policy in India is a process of reserving a certain percentage of
seats the maximum limit is 50 percent for a specific class, for example,
Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Backward Classes, and so on in Government
educational institutions, government jobs.
The policy of Reservation an age-old policy being practiced in India. Its source
has its underlying foundations from the old times when the act of untouchability
caste system and Varna system was predominant in the general society.
These sections have confronted historical injustice because of their identity
which is related to caste. As a quota-based governmental policy regarding
minorities in society, the reservation can likewise be seen as Positive
Discrimination. In India, it is represented by government policies and
strategies and it is supported by the Indian Constitution.
History Of Reservation System
- William Hunter and Jyotirao Phule in 1882 initially considered the
possibility of a Caste-based Reservation framework
- The reservation system that exists today in our system, was presented in
1933 when British Prime-Minister Ramsay Macdonald introduced the Communal
- The award made provision for independent electorates for Muslims, Sikhs,
Indian Christians, Anglo-Indians, Europeans, and the Dalits.
- After discussions, Gandhi and Ambedkar decided to sign the Poona Pact,
where it was concluded that there would be a single Hindu electorate with
specific reservations in it.
- After freedom in the initial years, reservations were given distinctly
to SCs and STs.
- OBCs were also included for the ambit of reservation in 1991 on the
proposals of the Mandal Commission.
- In exercise of the powers which were conferred by Article 340 of the
Indian Constitution, the President appointed a backward class commission in
1978 under the chairmanship of B. P. Mandal.
- The commission was formed to determine the criteria for characterizing
India's socially and educationally backward classes and to recommend steps
to be taken for the advancement of those classes.
- The Mandal Commission inferred that India's population comprised
around 52 percent OBCs, thus 27% of government jobs should be reserved for the
other backward classes.
- The commission has developed few indicators of social, educational, and
- Apart from distinguishing in backward classes among Hindus, the
Commission has additionally recognized backward classes among non-Hindus
(e.g., Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, and Buddhists.
Constitution Provisions Relating To Reservation Policy
Article 15(4): Special Provisions as concerning Advancement of Backward
Article 15(4) is an exception to clause 1 and 2 of Article 15, and it was added
by the Constitution (First Amendment) Act, 1951, because of the decision in
State of Madras v. Champakam Dorairajan. In this particular case, the Madras
Government had reserved seats in State Medical and Engineering universities for
different communities in different proportions based on religion, race, and
The state defended the law on the ground that it was enacted to promote
social justice for all the sections of individuals as required by Article 46
which deals with the Directive Principles of State Policy. The Supreme Court
declared the law void as it was classifying the students based on their religion
and caste irrespective of merit.
To change the impact of the decision, Article
15 was amended by the Constitution (First Amendment) Act, 1951. Under this
clause, the state has the power to make provisions for the advancement of any
educationally or socially backward classes of residents or SCs and the STs.
After the amendment, it became easy for the state to set up a Harijan Colony to
advance the interest of the backward classes.
93rd Constitution Amendment Act, 2006: Provision for Reservation of Backward, SC
and ST classes in private educational institutions (article 15(5))
The new added clause 5 which provides that nothing in Article 15 or sub-clause
(g) of Clause 1 of Article 19 shall prevent the state from making any special
provisions, by law, for the advancement of any socially and educationally
backward classes of residents or the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes to
the extent that special provisions which is related to admission in educational
institutions and it also includes private educational institutions, whether
aided or unaided by the State, other than the minority educational institutions
as provided in Clause (1) of Article 30.
The amendment has been enacted to invalidate the impact of three decisions of
the Supreme Court in TM Pai Foundation v. State of Karnataka
, Islamic Academy v.State of Karnataka
P.A Inamdar v. State of Maharashtra
 and In T.M
Pai and the P.A. Inamdar case, it had been held that the state cannot make the
reservation of seats which is related to admission in private educational
In the Islamic Academy case, it had been held that the state can
fix quota for admissions to these educational institutions yet it cannot fix
fees, and also the admission can take place based on common admission tests and
the basis of merit. This Amendment empowers the state to make provisions for
reservation for the above classifications of classes in admission to private
The Amendment, notwithstanding, keeps the minority
educational institutions out of its domain. Article 15 prohibits religion-based
discrimination. The evil impact of the reservation is well known. The
politicians who claim to take the nation to the 21st century for which advanced
education depends on merit is essential, is making a retroactive step in giving
reservation to less meritorious students u to private educational institutions.
This policy may get some benefit for politicians in elections but it would be
harmful to the Country.
Reservation of posts in Public Employment based on Residence (Article 16(3))
Article 16(3) is an exception to clause 2 of Article 16 which does not permit
discrimination on the ground of residence. However, there might be valid
justifications for reserving certain posts in State for residents only. This
article gives power to Parliament to control by law the degree to which it would
be admissible for a state to depart from the above guideline or principle.
Reservation for backward classes in opportunities of Public Employment (Article
Article 16(4) is the second exception to the overall guideline which is embodied
in Articles 16(1) and (2). It gives power to the state to make special
provisions for the reservation in the appointment of posts for any backward
class of residents which in the assessment of the State are not adequately
represented in the services which are under the control of the State.
Different Articles of Indian Constitution covering the Reservation Policy
Article 17 discusses the abolition of untouchability and also declares that its
practice any form to be an offense culpable under law.
The Social Security Charter of Directive Principles of State Policy which is
mentioned under Article 39-A which directs or guides the State to guarantee
equal justice and free legal aid to Economically Backward Classes and under
Article 45 imposes an obligation on the state to increase the standard of living
and health of backward classes.
Articles 330-342 discusses the Special Provision for the specific class of
individuals, for example, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Anglo: Indians,
Linguistic minorities, and Other backward classes.
Article 335 plays a significant role as a balancing activity during the process
of allotting seats on a different basis of reservation. The Article all by
itself expresses that the State will consider the claims of individuals from
Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to any seats in administrative positions,
but only if selecting the individuals will improve the administrative
efficiency. At no point in time is the State is required to give the individuals
these seats exclusively based on their social standing.
The article act as a guiding principle to the State in performing its
obligations without the restriction of claims of the SCs and STs.
Conclusion And Suggestion
- Indra Sawhney V. Union of India 
The 9 Judge Constitution Bench of the Apex Court by 6:3 majority held that the
decision of the Central Government to reserve 27 percent Government jobs for in
backward classes provided socially advanced persons Creamy Layer among them
are eliminated or must be excluded, is valid as per the Constitution. The
reservation of seats will just restrict to initial appointments and not to
promotions, and the total reservations will not exceed the 50% limit.
held the 2 impugned notifications as valid and enforceable in a partial manner.
however subject to the conditions as indicated in the decision that socially
advanced persons Creamy layer among Backward Classes is excluded.
Notwithstanding, the court struck down the Congress Governments OM reserving
10% Government job for the economically backward classes among higher classes.
After this landmark Mandal case, Article 16(4-A) (through 77th Amendment) and
16(4-B) (through 81st Amendment) were added to the Constitution. As indicated by
clause 4-A, nothing in this Article shall prevent the state from making any
specific provisions for reservation in issues of promotion to any class or
classes of posts in the service which is the under the control of the state for
the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes which in the assessment of the State,
are not adequately represented in the services which are under the control of
Clause 4-B seeks to end the 50 percent ceiling limit on the reservation for SCs/STs
and other backward classes in backlog vacancies which couldn't be filled in the
last few years due to the non-availability of qualified applicants.
85th Amendment Act replaces the words in issues of promotion to any class in
clause 4-An of Article 16 with words "in issues of promotion, with
significant seniority, to any class.
- State of UP v. Pradeep Tandon AIR 1975 SC 563.
The State Government had given an order which called for reservation of
seats for students in medical institutions. This reservation was stretched
out to candidates from:
This order was challenged in the Apex Court. The classification was based on
geographical and a regional zone which was noticed by the Court was made so
because of the candidates from these regions being viewed as socially and
culturally backward classes.
- Rural areas
- Hilly areas
- Uttarakhand region
That being stated, the court named the reservation for the candidates from hilly
areas and Uttarakhand legitimate and valid, as the absence of means of
communication, and educational facilities kept poor people and unskilled
individuals in the remote and sparsely populated regions backward but the
similar comfort of reservation was not extended out to applicants hailing from
It was held invalid that the division of the individuals on the
ground that the individuals in the rural areas were poor and those in the
metropolitan zones was not poor, as the equivalent was not upheld by facts and
circumstances of the case.
- State of Madras v. Smt. Champakan Dorairajan  S.C.R. 525
This case was the consequence of the Madras government giving an order
implementing communal G.O.s regarding medical schools. The order determined
proportions for reservation of seats in medical universities concerning the
state one had a connection with.
While the objective or goal of the order was to support the backward classes,
the special bench of seven appointed judges struck down the order of the Madras
Government and claiming it to be unconstitutional as it violated Articles 15(1)
and 29(2) of the Constitution.
The policy of Reservation in India was adopted with reason to uplift certain
castes who were enslaved to atrocities, social, and financial backwardness
because of the prevalent dominance of the caste framework in Hindu Society.
This explanation has someplace lost its essence in the modern times, and the
castes that should be benefitted are not receiving proper benefits, and the
others are receiving the benefits of the policy of the reservation that is not
meant for it. Today, the reservation system has recently become a tool for
politicians to increase their vote banks.
Reservation through a caste-based system or framework has become repetitive in
the modern world and is taking away great opportunities from the individuals who
are oppressed or underprivileged in economical terms. The reservation framework
just divides the society which leads to discrimination and clashes between
various sections since it is oppressive and doesn't discover its basis in
casteism. It is the opposite of communal living.
Reservation benefits, whenever
provided, should be limited to a limit of two kids for each family, regardless
of the number of children they have in their family, which would help in the
regulation of the population in OBCs which will in the long run result in a
decrease in their representation, offering a route to the principle of equality.
An individual of the general category may suffer financially just as much as an
individual from an OBC, nonetheless, under the criteria for reservation only the
individual who belongs to OBC gets the opportunity of reservation in an
educational institution or a government job.
- Constitution (First Amendment) Act, 1951
- Article 15 of Constitution of India 1950
- Article 16 of Constitution of India 1950.
- Constitution 93rd Amendment Act of 2006.
- Article 335 of the Constitution of India 1950
- 85th Constitution Amendment Act of 2001.
- State of Madras v. Champakam Dorairajan AIR 1951 SC 226
- TM Pai Foundation v. State of Karnataka AIR 2003 SC 355
- Islamic Academy v.State of Karnataka AIR 2003 SC 3724
- P.A Inamdar v. State of Maharashtra Air 2005 SC 3226
- The Constitution of India by JN Pandey
- Indra Sawhney V. Union of India AIR 1993 SC 477
- State of UP v. Pradeep Tandon AIR 1975 SC 563.
- State of Madras v. Smt. Champakan Dorairajan 1951S.C.R. 525