A five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court held that the G.O. issued by then A.P. Government to provide 100% reservation for tribal teachers in schools located in Scheduled Areas is not permissible and quashed the order.
The judgement was delivered by Supreme Court on 22.4.2020 by five-judges led by Justice Arun Mishra with Justices Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, M.R.Shah and Aniruddha Bose said in their order that G.O.Ms.No.3/2000 providing for 100 per cent Reservation is not permissible under the Constitution, the outer limit is 50 per cent as specified in Indra Sawhney case (supra).
The case stemmed from a legal challenge by Chebrolu Leela Prasad Rao & Ors against 10 January 2000 order issued by the erstwhile State of Andhra Pradesh Bench providing 100% reservation to the Scheduled Tribe candidates, out of whom 33 1/3% shall be women, for the post of teachers in schools located in the Scheduled Areas of the State.
The case relates to the GOs issued by then A.P. State Government way back in 1986 to identify few districts where Tribal population is considerably high and non-Tribal teachers are not forthcoming to serve in the Tribals dominated schools and hence, implemented 100% reservation for Tribals for Teacher position posts.
The court noted the 2000 notification was a “misadventure, the erstwhile State had embarked on to save an identical one issued in 1986. The 2000 notification was given retrospective effect to bring to life to its predecessor of 1986. The court said it would not set aside the teachers’ appointments as long as Telangana and Andhra do not try, for a third time, to bring a similar notification in the future.
The Court order thus prohibits reservation beyond 50% referring the Indra Sawhney judgement.
It will not be out of context that in the Indra Sawhney case, the nine-judges’ bench have also mentioned under para 810 as under:
‘While 50% shall be the rule, it is necessary not to put out of consideration certain extraordinary situations inherent in the great diversity of this country and the people. It might happen that in far-flung and remote areas the population inhabiting those areas might, on account of their being out of the mainstream of national life and in view of conditions peculiar to and characteristically to them, need to be treated in a different way, some relaxation in this strict rule may become imperative. In doing so, extreme caution is to be exercised and a special case made out’.
It is also to be noted that nowhere in the Constitution, percentage of reservation to the reserved groups has been stipulated and it must not be forgotten that the North Eastern States viz. Arunachal Pradesh. Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland provide 80% and Lakshadweep provide 100% reservation to Scheduled Tribes for the entire State and the Courts are well aware of these orders issued by the NE State Governments.
While the other aspects of the judgment on whether Governor can make new laws exercising power under Para 5(1) of the Fifth Schedule to the Constitution of India needs further discussion and legal analysis, I restrict my inputs on the Judges pronouncement limiting reservation beyond 50%.