[Answered] Discuss how the landmark judgments, over the period of time, contributed to the evolution of jurisprudence of reservation in India?

Introduction: Contextual introduction.
Body: Write some landmark judgements which contributed to the evolution of jurisprudence of reservation in India.
Conclusion: Write a way forward.

Reservation, in India, is the process of facilitating people, by reserving access to seats in education, scholarship, government jobs, etc., who have faced historical injustice in the society. Reservation is the form of quota-based affirmative action. It is governed by constitutional laws, statutory laws, and local rules and regulations.

The following judgments contributed to the evolution of jurisprudence of reservation in India:

  1. Mandal Commission (1980): The commission was formed to determine the criteria for defining India’s “socially and educationally backward classes”. The Mandal Commission concluded that India’s population consisted of approximately 52% OBCs, therefore 27% government jobs should be reserved for them.
  2. Indra Sawhney Case of 1992: The Supreme Court, while upholding the 27% quota for backward classes also upheld that the combined reservation beneficiaries should not exceed 50% of India’s population. While Article 16(1) is a fundamental right, Article 16(4) is an enabling provision. The bench held that the creamy layer among Scheduled castes and tribes is to be excluded from reservation.
  3. Nagaraj (2006): Supreme Court laid down certain conditions which included the collection of “quantifiable data showing backwardness of the class and inadequacy of representation of that class in public employment”. The bench held that the creamy layer among Scheduled castes and tribes is to be excluded from reservation.
  4. Jarnail Singh vs Lachhmi Narain Gupta (2018): The Supreme Court held that reservation in promotions does not require the state to collect quantifiable data on the backwardness of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes. The Court held that creamy layer exclusion extends to SC/STs and, hence the State cannot grant reservations in promotion to SC/ST individuals who belong to the creamy layer of their community.
  5. Jaishri Laxmanrao Patil vs Chief Minister (2021): While affirming the Indra Sawhney decision, SC said that the 2018 Act granting reservation for Maratha community does not make out any exceptional circumstance to exceed the ceiling limit of 50% reservation.

Reservation is fair, as far as it provides appropriate affirmative actions for the benefit of the downtrodden and economically backward sections of society. But, reservation beyond the limit will lead to the ignorance of the merit, which will disturb the entire administration.

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