February 24, 2021
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Judgment Summary II

Ashoka Kumar Thakur Vs. Union of India and Ors -- summary of judgement by Justice Dr Arijit Pasayat and C.K. Thakker

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Judgment Summary II

(1) For implementation of the impugned Statute creamy layer must be excluded.

(2) There must be periodic review as to the desirability of continuing operation of the Statute. This shall be done once in every five years.

(3) The Central Government shall examine as to the desirability of fixing a cut off marks in respect of the candidates belonging to the Other Backward Classes (OBCs). By way of illustration it can be indicated that five marks grace can be extended to such candidates below the minimum eligibility marks fixed for general categories of students. This would ensure quality and merit would not suffer. If any seats remain vacant after adopting such norms they shall be filled up by candidates from general categories.

(4) So far as determination of backward classes is concerned, a Notification should be issued by the Union of India. This can be done only after exclusion of the creamy layer for which necessary data must be obtained by the Central Government from the State Governments and Union Territories. Such Notification is open to challenge on the ground of wrongful exclusion or inclusion. Norms must be fixed keeping in view the peculiar features in different States and Union Territories.

(5) There has to be proper identification of Other Backward Classes (OBCs.). For identifying backward classes, the Commission set up pursuant to the directions of this Court in Indra Sawhney No.1 has to work more effectively and not merely decide applications for inclusion or exclusion of castes. While determining backwardness, graduation (not technical graduation) or professional shall be the standard test yardstick for measuring backwardness.

(6) To strike the constitutional balance it is necessary and desirable to ear-mark certain percentage of seats out of permissible limit of 27% for socially and economically backward classes.

(7) In the Constitution for the purposes of both Articles 15 and 16, caste is not synonyms with class and this is clear from the paragraphs 782 and 783 of Indra Sawhney No.1. However, when creamy layer is excluded from the caste, the same becomes an identifiable class for the purpose of Articles 15 and 16.

(8) Stress has to be on primary and secondary education so that proper foundation for higher education can be effectively laid.

(9) So far as the constitutional amendments are concerned: (i) Articles 16(1) and 16(4) have to be harmoniously construed. The one is not an exception to the other. (ii) Articles 15(4) and 15(5) operate in different fields. Article 15(5) does not render Article 15(4) inactive or inoperative.

(10) While interpreting the constitutional provisions, foreign decisions do not have great determinative value. They may provide materials for deciding the question regarding constitutionality. In that sense, the strict scrutiny test is not applicable and indepth scrutiny has to be made to decide the constitutionality or otherwise, of a statute.

(11) If material is shown to the Central Government that the Institution deserves to be included in the Schedule, the Central Government must take an appropriate decision on the basis of materials placed and on examining the concerned issues as to whether Institution deserves to be included in the Schedule.

(12) Challenge relating to private un-aided educational institutions has not been examined because no such institution has laid any challenge. It is to be noted that the petitioners have made submissions in the background of Article 19(6) of the Constitution. Since none of the affected institutions have made any challenge we do not propose to consider it necessary to express any opinion or decide on the question.

Full text of Justice Dr Arijit Pasayat and C.K. Thakker is available here

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