In a setback to the BJP government in Gujarat, the High Court on Thursday quashed the ordinance providing 10 per cent quota for the economically backward among the unreserved category. The ordinance was promulgated by erstwhile CM Anandiben Patel-led government to pacify the agitating Patidar community. Patel resigned earlier this week.
The High Court, however, stayed the order for two weeks on the request of the state government pleader so that they can approach Supreme Court.
Terming the ordinance issued on May 1 as “inappropriate and unconstitutional”, a division bench of Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy and Justice VM Pancholi rejected the state’s argument that it is a classification under the general category and not the reserved category and held that it will breach the 50 per cent quota cap set up by the Supreme Court.
Rejecting the state government’s ordinance, the Gujarat high court said that the government took the decision without any study or scientific data.
Petitioners Dayaram Verma, Ravjibhai Manani, Dulari Basarge and Gujarat Parents’ Association had separately challenged the ordinance announcing reservation of 10 per cent seats to candidates belonging to the unreserved category with family income cap of Rs 6 lakh annually in government jobs and educational institutions.
Reacting to the order, Health minister Nitin Patel, who is also considered to be among the front runner for the Chief Minister’s post, said the Government will stick to the provision of EBC quota and challenge the HC order in the apex court as soon as possible.
Earlier, during the course of arguments, the government had contended that that the reservation is actually “a further classification in the general, open, unreserved category” and does not violate either Supreme Court order or Constitutional provisions.
“The ordinance should be read with Article 46 of Constitution (which states that social justice is required for weaker sections of society) and not with reference to Backward Class quota,” the government affidavit said.
On the other hand, the petitioners argued that the reservation violates the Supreme Court’s order providing 50 per cent ceiling for quota in the Indra Sawhney vs Union of India case.
They said that additional 10 per cent reservation reduced the number of seats in educational institutions for candidates from unreserved category with annual family income of more than Rs 6 lakh.
On May 1, the state had issued the ordinance providing 10 per cent reservation to persons from economically weaker sections from unreserved category, other than the SC, ST and OBC, for admissions in educational institutions and government jobs. The reservation is applicable to persons with annual family income cap of Rs 6 lakh.
Meanwhile, hailing the order, Patidar sub-community agitation leader Hardik Patel said, “We welcome the order, as we always wanted reservation as per the Constitution. Thus, our agitation for reservation under OBC quota will continue till we get justice.”
(With inputs from the PTI)