Bench: Sinha, Bhuvneshwar P.(Cj), Gajendragadkar, P.B., Wanchoo, K.N., Gupta, K.C. Das, Shah, J.C.


The government of Mysore issued an order wherein 68% of seats were reserved for Engineering and Mechanical colleges and medical institutions in the state in the favour of the socially and educationally backward classes, scheduled classes and scheduled tribes.

The order of the Mysore government was challenged by the students securing more marks than admitted under reserved categories. Though they qualified by merit but got rejected in admission due to government order.


whether the extension of special  provision which the states can make under articles 15(4) of the Indian constitution?


The apex court held that the Order is fraud upon the constitution, plainly inconsistent with article 15(4),  with striking down the said order , the court enunciated the some important principles

1. Article 15(4) is a proviso or an exception to clause (1) of article 15 and to clause (2) of article 29.

2. For the purpose of Article 15 sub clause 4 backwardness must be both social and educational and not either social or educational. Though caste in relation to Hindu may be a relevant factor to consider in determining the social test.

Christian , Jains, and Muslims do not believe in the caste system . the test of caste cannot be applied on them . In as much as identification of all backward classes under the impugned order has been made solely on the basis of caste it is bad.

poverty caused due to determining the factor of social backwardness. one’s occupation and place of habitation, could be the other relevant factor in determining social backwardness of a class of person. The court thus invalidated the test of social backwardness which was predominantly if not solely on the basis of caste.

3. the reservation made under article 15(4) must be reasonable. it wouldn’t be such as to defeat or nullify the main rule of equality contained in clause(1) . While it is not possible to predict the exact permissible percentage of reservation, it can be stated in a general and broad way that they ought to be less than 50 percent.

4. A stipulation under Article 15(4) need not be in the form of legislation, an executive order can make such provision.

5. The next categorization of the backward classes into backward and more backward is not warranted by Article 15(4).

Finally the court said that the state would not be justified in ignoring altogether advancement of the rest of the society in its zeal to promote the welfare of the backwards and National interest would suffer if qualified and competent students were excluded from admission into institutions of higher education.

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