Quota Rules

With the Supreme Court allowing Tamil Nadu to go beyond the 50 per cent cap in reservation for one more year,<i>The Indian Express </i>explores what quota means to different states.

Written by Express News Service | Published: July 19, 2010 12:19:29 am

Last week,the Supreme Court permitted Tamil Nadu to continue its 69 per cent reservation in education and jobs for the SCs,STs,BCs and MBCs for another year. Immediately,two former chief ministers of Jharkhand wanted a 2002 High Court order to be reconsidered. The HC order had quashed a reservation policy of the state government that went beyond the 50 per cent cap. As far as the Central educational institutions are concerned,this is the third academic year after the Supreme Court in 2008 upheld the legislation providing 27 per cent reservation for the OBCs. A look at the reservation policy in both education and jobs across states:

Tamil Nadu

It all began here. The quota for the backward classes,now in the reckoning again following the recent Supreme Court order that permitted Tamil Nadu to continue 69 per cent reservation for one more year,has its beginning in the erstwhile Madras Presidency over a century-and-a-half ago. In 1854,the then British government issued a Standing Order (No 128/2) which directed Collectors to carve out separate allocations for the principal castes in jobs. Decades later,in 1921,the Justice Party that was in power in the Presidency issued a Government Order which formally allocated the quota for the main castes/ religions. As per the GO,non-Brahmin Hindus were to receive 44 per cent of the jobs,while Brahmins,Muslims,Christians and Anglo Indians were allotted 16 per cent each,and the remaining eight per cent went to the Scheduled Castes. However,this order was not implemented for six more years,and it took yet another order by minister Muthiah Mudaliar in 1927 that directed job quota in the registry department. This fresh order was known as ‘Communal GO’.

From then till 1950,the order was in force and was implemented in jobs and admissions to educational institutes till the High Court of Madras,hearing two cases filed by aggrieved parties,struck it down as being a violation of the Constitution. The complainants — Shanbagam Duraiswamy and C R Srinivasan — claimed that they did not get admission in medical college and engineering college respectively due to the quota system,which the court found was against the Constitutional guarantee of not discriminating on religious,caste or other such factors. The case soon reached the Supreme Court,which upheld the lower court’s order. This gave rise to massive protests in Tamil Nadu,protests that moulded the state’s politics for decades to come.

‘Periyar’ E V Ramasamy’s Dravida Kazhagam,the successor of Justice Party and forerunner of the DMK,was among the main forces that took up the cause,propelling itself towards wider support and acceptance.

To control the fire,the Union Government under the then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru decided to amend the Constitution,the first such exercise after adopting the Constitution the previous year. Thus came the Constitution (First Amendment) Act,1951,on June 18,that brought in an additional clause to Article 15 granting powers to the state governments to make “any special provision for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.”

Thus reservation was back in the State. After the first reorganisation of States in 1957,a new formula was arrived at. As per this,BC members were to get 25 per cent,while Scheduled Castes were given 16 per cent quota. After coming to power,the DMK government increased the allocation for BCs to 31 per cent.

A few years later,in 1979,the then chief minister M G Ramachandran tried to bring in the economic factor (an annual income of Rs 9,000 as the ceiling) as well to filter the reservation process but quickly repealed it a year later after biting the dust in the general elections. He also went a step ahead and hiked BC share to 50 per cent.

The subsequent DMK government added one per cent for the Scheduled Tribes. In all,over the years,the total reserved seats reached 69 per cent. In other changes,the 50 per cent for the Backward Classes was bifurcated into 30 per cent for BCs and the remaining 20 per cent for the MBCs and Denotified Tribes. Recently,the state government announced separate reservation within the allocated quota for Muslims (from the 30 per cent for BCs) and also for the Arunthathiyar community (from the 18 per cent earmarked for the SCs).


Even as tribal leaders cutting across all political parties are unanimously demanding increase in reservation for tribals in government jobs and professional courses to 32 per cent,the Raman Singh Government is yet to take a call on a Cabinet sub-committee’s recommendation to enhance the total reservation beyond 50 per cent.

The sub-committee,comprising senior ministers,had submitted its report recommending increase in reservation to Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes on the basis of their population in the state. However,SC organisations opposed the move as their quota would go down,while Other Backward Classes wanted their reservation to be increased to 27 per cent.

At present,STs get 18 per cent reservation in Class I and Class II posts and 20 per cent in Class III and Class IV posts. The corresponding figures for SCs is 15 and 20 per cent,respectively. The OBCs,on the other hand,have 14 per cent quota in government jobs.

Those demanding increase in tribal reservation to 32 per cent point out that the Centre had already revised the quantum of reservation for SC,ST and OBC in case of direct recruitment in July 2005 itself,under which STs are getting 32 per cent reservation,SCs 12 per cent,and OBCs 6 per cent in Central government departments in Chhattisgarh. As the matter came up before the Cabinet sub-committee,a few ministers pressed for providing 5 per cent reservation for the upper caste poor while others demanded enhancing the OBC reservation to 27 per cent. If the government accepts the recommendations,total reservation in government jobs and professional courses could go up to 72 per cent.

Madhya Pradesh

In 2003,the state had sought to increase the quota for OBCs to 27 per cent,but the Madhya Pradesh High Court stayed the government order. The High Court’s order,in response to a petition filed by a general category candidate,is still in operation. The existing break-up of quotas in both jobs and education is: 16 per cent for SCs,20 per cent for STs,14 per cent for OBCs. At the district level,the quota for Class III and Class IV posts has been fixed in accordance to the percentage of SC/ST population. For example,in tribal-dominated Jhabua district,it is as high as 85 per cent. In Mandla district,ST quota is 62 per cent while SC quota is only 6 per cent.


The Mandal Commission report for providing 27 per cent reservation to the BCs has not been implemented in the state. The present quota in government jobs for SCs is 20 per cent,for BCs it is 27 per cent,and for the physically challenged it is 3 per cent. But a study of the break-up for Class I posts shows that only 10 per cent of the posts have been filled by SCs. Similarly,backward classes account for only 7 per cent of the Class I posts. Haryana has a reservation policy in education system only in government colleges and it is up to 51 per cent — 20 per cent for SC students,27 per cent for BC students,1 per cent for dependents of ex-servicemen and 3 per cent for physically challenged students.


Fifty per cent of the government jobs have been reserved for various categories. There is 25 per cent reservation for the SCs,13 per cent for BCs and OBCs,13 per cent for ex-servicemen,3 per cent each for handicapped and sportspersons and 1 per cent for the kin of freedom fighters. While the total works out to over 50 per cent,the actual figure never crosses the 50 per cent mark as there is reservation within reservation.

The reservation for students in higher education institutions is up to 51 per cent: 25 per cent for SCs,5 per cent for BCs,2 per cent each for students from backward areas,students of border areas,sportspersons,children of freedom fighters,political sufferers,children of defense personnel,children of terror victims and widows.


While reservation has been prevailing in Kerala even before Independence,it is still a contentious issue. The upper class Hindu Nair community,which bore the brunt of the Land Reforms Act,has been battling for reservation in government job and education sector for the economically weaker sections among the forward castes. The Nairs want economic backwardness to be made the criteria for reservation.

A government-nominated committee recently found that the backward Ezhava Hindus (OBC) have got better representation in government sector over the last six decades,while the Muslims have fallen just below the level of adequate representation. The difference of opinion on reservation has been a hindrance towards the unity between the backward and forward caste Hindus.

While upper class Hindus and Christians,other than Latin Catholics and converted segments,form the forward class,Muslims,Ezhava or Thiyya Hindus form the backward segment.

The existing reservation in government jobs is as follows: 14 per cent for OBCs (Hindu),12 per cent for Muslims,4 per cent for Latin Catholics,10 per cent for SCs & STs,3 per cent for other backward classes,2 per cent for Nadar,1 per cent for Dheevara,3 per cent for Vishwakarma and 1 per cent for other backward Christians.

In engineering and medical colleges,socially and educationally backward have a quota of 25 per cent,Muslims 8 per cent,OBC (Hindu) 9 per cent,other backward Hindus 5 per cent,other backward Christians 1 per cent,and SCs & STs 10 per cent. In 2008,the government introduced 10 per cent quota in government-run colleges and 7.5 per cent in university departments for BPL students from the forward castes.


In both government jobs as well as education institutes,the Bihar government has followed the general pattern of granting 27 per cent reservation for OBCs and 18 per cent for SCs and STs. The Opposition has been demanding 10 per cent quota for Muslims,on the basis of their socio-economic background,but Chief Minister Nitish Kumar,despite supporting this in principle,has not been able to implement this reservation. The Pasmanda or OBC Muslims,who comprise 7.44 per cent of Bihar’s population,however,enjoy reservation under the OBC category.

It was the then chief minister Karpoor Thakur who first set aside 26 per cent quota in state government jobs in 1978. Of this,12 per cent went to extremely backward castes,8 per cent to OBCs,6 per cent to women and other categories. The “Karpoori formula” was implemented amidst protests from upper-caste sections.

In 1992,the then chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav implemented the Mandal Commission report,granting 27 per cent reservation for OBC (including EBCs),18 per cent for SCs and STs.


The total reservation in the state for both government jobs and education institutes adds up to 52 per cent: 13 per cent for SCs,7 per cent for STs,11 per cent for nomadic and denotified tribes,19 per cent for OBCs,and 2 per cent for special BCs. Some Maratha outfits are demanding 25 per cent quota as OBCs. On the other hand,OBC leaders like Chhagan Bhujbal say they are not opposed to Marathas getting reservation,but it should not be clubbed with the existing OBC quota.

Himachal Pradesh

The quotas in government and educational institutes for SCs is 15 per cent,STs 7.5 per cent and OBCs 18 per cent. Other than this,there is 15 per cent reserved in jobs for ex-servicemen,3 per cent for physically handicapped and another 3 per cent for sportsperson. Last year,another 15 per cent was reserved for BPL families.


With two violent agitations in 2007 and 2008,which led to the death of more than 70 people,the Gurjjar community in Rajasthan demanded ST status first and special reservation later. Though the Gurjjars began their struggle for reservation in 2004,it was the agitation three years later,under the leadership of Col Kirori Singh Bainsla,that the movement took shape. They blocked arterial highways,uprooted railway tracks and launched violent agitations across eastern Rajasthan which lasted for two months. After several rounds of talks with the then Vasundhara Raje-led BJP government,they ended the agitation after the announcement of a special package for the upliftment of Gurjjars,Rebari,Banjara and Gadiya Luhar communities.

However,a year later,in May 2008,Bainsla once again spearheaded an agitation,this time adamant about inclusion of the Gurjjars as STs. Another month of bloody agitations later,the Raje government acquiesced and decided to pass a Bill granting 5 per cent special reservation to Gurjjars and 16 per cent to economically backward upper castes.

However,it was only in 2009,after a third,albeit peaceful,agitation that the then Rajasthan Governor S K Singh gave his assent to the Bill,though the Rajasthan High Court stayed the process since quota in Rajasthan was now in violation of the Supreme Court guidelines,which mandates that quota cannot exceed 50 per cent.

In 2010,the fourth Gurjjar stir came to an end after successful talks between Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Bainsla. The government agreed to give Gurjjars and three other communities 5 per cent reservation in a phased manner and promised to ensure reservation in such a way so as to avoid another court stay.

This will be in addition to the existing quota in government jobs and education of 21 per cent for OBCs,16 per cent for SCs,12 per cent for STs.


Despite its move to provide 88 per cent reservation in jobs and education,the state government has been adhering to a “provisional” policy according 50 per cent quota for SCs,STs and OBCs. The break-up for this is as follows: 10 per cent for SCs,26 per cent for STs,and 14 per cent for OBCs. This was notified by the state personnel department in 2002.

Prior to this,the state government led by the then chief minister Babulal Marandi had come up with a plan to provide reservation on the basis of their respective share in the state’s total population. Since the SCs,STs and OBCs were estimated to constitute 10,26 and 52 per cent of the total population respectively in 2001,the Marandi government proposed to provide 88 per cent reservation in the same ratio. This triggered widespread protests.

A bunch of petitions,both in favour and against the move,were filed. Disposing of these petitions,the court directed the state government to cap reservation at 50 per cent.


The Assam government has two separate sets of quotas reserved for different castes,tribes and other categories of people for jobs and educational institutions. In government jobs,including those recruited by the Assam Public Service Commission (APSC),the break-up is as follows: SC 7 per cent,ST (plains) 10 per cent,ST (hills) 5 per cent,OBC/ MOBC 27 per cent,physically handicapped 3 per cent. The total comes to 52 per cent.

In government educational institutions,including engineering and medical colleges,7 per cent seats are reserved for the SCs,10 per cent for STs (plains),5 per cent for STs (hills),15 per cent for OBC/ MOBC,3 per cent for the physically challenged. The total comes to 40 per cent.

Government institutions also have the following quotas: Sons and daughters of Ex-servicemen have one reserved seat in each engineering college/polytechnic. Children,and grandchildren (both paternal and maternal) of freedom fighters have one reserved seat in each engineering college,2 seats in each polytechnic. Reservation for physically challenged vary: one seat in each engineering college,3 per cent in polytechnic.

Besides,for candidates from tea garden labour community,one seat is reserved in each engineering college,two in each polytechnic are also reserved,but within the 15 per cent OBC/MOBC quota limit. For sportsman or sportswoman representing the state one seat is reserved in each engineering college/polytechnic.

West Bengal

In West Bengal the SCs have been given 22 per cent reservation in government jobs while the STs have a 6 per cent reservation and the OBCs 7 per cent. In higher education the reservation for the SCs remains 22 per cent and that for the STs 6 per cent. At present,there’s no reservation for the OBCs in higher education,but in the current session of the state Assembly the government had announced that reservation for the OBCs in higher education,including medical and engineering courses,would be implemented from the next academic session.

In the wake of the observations made by Sachar Committee of very poor representation of Muslims in government jobs,Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has announced a 10 per cent reservation for Muslims in government jobs. However,since the government cannot provide reservation on the basis of religion,Muslims have been brought under the OBC category. So far,43 groups of Muslims have been identified as OBC in the state. The population of these 43 groups of Muslims in the state is 1.2 crores out of the total population of 2.2 crores.

Uttar Pradesh

The reservation quota in UP for the SCs,STs,OBCs is in accordance to the cap of 50 per cent fixed by the Supreme Court. The reservation for the SCs,STs and OBCs in government jobs,educational institutions,three-tier panchayat bodies and urban local bodies is 21 per cent,2 per cent and 27 per cent,respectively. The present Mayawati-led BSP government has introduced two new categories. It has enforced 21 per cent quota for Dalits in all the contracts awarded by the engineering departments. For promoting reservation in the private sector,it has asked potential investors in the state to implement quota for the SCs and OBCs if they want to avail benefits like stamp duty exemption.

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