Bihar: Patna High Court Refuses to Stay Decision on Increased Reservation
Patna: In a significant development favouring the Mahagathbandan government led by Nitish Kumar, the Patna High Court on Friday declined to stay the government's decision to raise the reservation in the state from the existing 50% to 75%. The court has requested a response from the government while considering a petition seeking to halt the decision.
The court bench made it explicit that it could not suspend the decision to increase reservation and directed the government to submit its reply by January 12, 2024. Subsequently, the court will proceed to hear the petition.
Earlier this week, a petition challenging the Bihar government's decision to increase reservation from 50% to 75% was filed in the court. Naman Sharesth and Gaurav Kumar, the petitioners in their Public Interest Litigation (PIL), contested the decision, labelling it a violation of fundamental rights. The petition urges the court to halt the increased reservation, citing its contradiction with constitutional rights. The court has reportedly accepted the petition for a hearing.
Meanwhile, the ruling Janata Dal (United) (JD-U) on Friday issued a warning to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MPs, urging them to facilitate the inclusion of Bihar's increased reservation in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution; otherwise, they may face protests and boycotts at the village level.
Senior JD-U leader Neeraj Kumar, also the party spokesperson and closely associated with Kumar, told the media, "We dared BJP MPs from Bihar, who are Union Ministers, to ensure incorporating Bihar’s increased reservation in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution. This will clarify the BJP’s stance on the increase of reservation." He added that if the decision is not incorporated, BJP leaders, including MPs, will face protests and be "gheraoed" at the village level.
Kumar mentioned that the state government has already submitted a proposal to the BJP-led central government for incorporating Bihar's increased reservation in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution.
The Bihar Legislative Assembly unanimously passed two bills on the reservation policy on November 9, namely the Bihar Reservation of Vacancies in Posts and Services (For SC, ST, EBC, and OBC) Amendment Bill and the Bihar (In Admission in Educational Institutions) Reservation Amendment Bill. Following the Assembly's approval, the Governor sanctioned both bills on November 18, leading to a gazette notification by the Bihar government on November 21.
The state government's decision to raise reservation limits aligns with the data from the caste survey report, reflecting the socio-economic status of various castes. According to the Bihar caste survey report released on October 2, 2023, Bihar comprises 215 castes with a total population of 13.7 crores, including 36% Economically Backward Classes (EBCs), 27% Other Backward Classes Classes (OBCs) (combined OBCs and EBCs), 19% Scheduled Classes (SCs) (Dalits), and 1.68% Scheduled Tribes (STs) (Adivasis).
Last week, Bihar’s Finance and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Vijay Kumar Chaudhary, called for a constitutional amendment to increase reservations, contingent on BJP's support. He emphasised the state government's request to include reservation increments in the Ninth Schedule, seeking immunity from judicial review.
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