Patna High Court Strikes Down Bihar’s Increased Reservation Law

In a significant judgment, the Patna High Court set aside the Bihar government’s laws that increased the reservation for Backward Classes, Extremely Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes, and Scheduled Tribes from 50% to 65% in jobs and educational institutions.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice K Vinod Chandran and Justice Harish Kumar ruled that the Bihar Reservation of Vacancies in Posts and Services (Amendment) Act, 2023 and The Bihar (In admission in Educational Institutions) Reservation (Amendment) Act, 2023 were unconstitutional and violative of the equality provisions under Articles 14, 15 and 16 of the Constitution.

Judgment on Batch of Petitions

The judgment came on a batch of petitions filed by various individuals and organizations challenging the amendments brought in by the Nitish Kumar-led Bihar government last year. The petitioners had argued that increasing reservations beyond the 50% ceiling set by the Supreme Court violated the basic structure of the Constitution.

In its 153-page verdict, the High Court held that the State legislature cannot be permitted to re-legislate on a constitutional scheme already interpreted by the Supreme Court. Referring to the apex court’s judgments in cases like Indra Sawhney and others, the bench said reservations exceeding 50% would violate the constitutional norm of equality.

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