In this article, we will discuss ‘Evolution of Reservation in india’ in a simple and easy way and try to understand its various important aspects.

For the sake of understanding, this entire article has been divided into four main parts. This is its third part. Before reading this, you must read the first and second part of it, there we had understood the basic element of reservation in India [1/4] and constitutional basis of reservation [2/4] respectively.

In the coming article, we will understand the Roster System: The Maths Behind Reservation [4/4] , so go through all the related articles for better understanding.

Since the entire reservation system revolves around Fundamental Rights (especially the Right to Equality), we suggest that you at least have a look at the Fundamental Rights for a better understanding.

Evolution Of Reservation
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| Evolution of Reservation in India

Reservation has been one of the very controversial issues in India. This is such a controversial issue on which the controversy continues even today and no one knows when it will end. The one who gets reservation, considers it as his privilege and the one who does not get it, wants to either get it or the one who is getting it also does not get it.

That is why the reservation which was brought for the upliftment of the backward class, that goal could not be fulfilled even in 75 years of independence and gradually it became an issue of political profit and loss.

Controversy started in the first few years of independence and gradually it took its shape. Today many more people are taking advantage of this than before, so how did it reach the position it is in today, for that let’s understand the development sequence of reservation…!

To understand the Evolution of Reservation in India We can classify it into two parts;

(1) Evolution of Reservation in India before independence, and
2) Evolution of Reservation in India after independence .

(1) Evolution of Reservation in India before independence

The quota system in favor of certain castes and other communities existed before independence in many areas of British India. For example, in 1882 and 1891 different forms of positive discrimination were sought. Maharaja Rajarshi Shahu (yashwantrao) of the princely state of Kolhapur introduced reservations in favor of non-Brahmins and backward classes, most of which came into force in 1902. He provided free education to all and opened many hostels to make it easy for them. 

[ The idea of ​​a caste-based reservation system was originally conceived by William Hunter and Jyotirao Phule in 1882. ]

*He also tried to ensure that educated people were appropriately employed, That is, they talked about free education and reservation in government jobs. and he appealed for both a class-free India and the abolition of untouchability. His 1902 measures created 50 percent reservation for backward communities.  

In 1918, at the behest of several non-Brahmin organizations criticizing the Brahmin supremacy of the administration, Mysore king Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar formed a committee to implement reservations in government jobs and education for non-Brahmins. 

On 16 September 1921, the first Justice Party government passed the first Communal Government Order, making it the first elected body in Indian legislative history to enact a reservation law, which has since become standard across the country.

[The Justice Party, officially the South Indian Liberal Federation, was a political party in the Madras Presidency of British India. It was founded on 20 November 1916 at Victoria Public Hallin Madras by Dr. C. Natesa Mudaliar and co-founded by TM Nair, P. Thiagaraya Chetty and Alamelu Mangai Thayrammal.]

The British Raj introduced the elements of reservation in the India Council Act of 1909. In which separate electorate was arranged for the Muslims. Under this, seats were reserved for Muslims in which only Muslims could vote.

In addition, in the context of the Round Table Conference of June 1932, the Prime Minister of Britain, Ramsay MacDonald, proposed the Communal Award, according to which separate representation for Muslims, Sikhs, Indian Christians, Anglo-Indians and Europeans was to be provided. 

Depressed classes, largely STs and SCs, were assigned a number of seats to be filled by elections from constituencies in which only they could vote, although they could vote in other seats as well. The proposal was controversial: Mahatma Gandhi fasted against it, but was supported by several Depressed Classes, including BR Ambedkar.

After negotiations, Gandhi struck an agreement with Ambedkar for a single Hindu electorate, with seats reserved for Dalits. This was Known as Poona Pact.

Well, the so-called reservation-like system that the British had brought, obviously, it served their own interests more. Although, it did create a perception in the minds of our leaders regarding reservation or positive discrimination.

(2) Evolution of Reservation in India after independence

Under Article 330 and 332 in the Lok Sabha and state legislatures, SC and ST category got constitutional reservation only after independence. Whatever things there are to understand in this context, we have known in the previous article.

The reservation given to SCs and STs in Lok Sabha and State Assemblies under Article 330 and 332 was to be implemented for the first 10 years only. But after every 10 years it has been extended for another 10 years. Last time it has been extended for 10 more years under the 104th Constitutional Amendment Act 2020. Because when it was extended in 2009 by the 95th Constitutional Amendment Act, its term was ending on 26 January 2020. Now that it has been extended again for 10 years, now its expiry period is 25 January 2030. [Information related to this can be found in Articles 330, 331, 332, 334, and 335.

Secondly, we have also understood in the previous article the reservation given in representative institutions like Panchayat and Municipality. However, to understand these two topics in detail, you have to read Local Self-Government.

So here we are going to understand the Evolution of Reservation in India, that is (1) Evolution of Reservation in admission in educational institutions and, (2) Evolution of Reservation in employment or appointment. This is the reservation about which there is a lot of hue and cry.

🔹 Evolution Of Reservation In Admission In Educational Institutions

Its beginning can be traced back to the Champakam Dorairajan case of 1951. Actually, at that time the Madras government had made arrangements for reservation in the college on the basis of community. Champakam appealed against this and argued that reservation could not be done under Article 15(1), Article 29(2) and Article 16. 

Which was also true, especially Article 29 (2) was completely against it. Because it says that no citizen can be prevented from entering any educational institution run by the state or run from the state fund on grounds of religion, race, caste and language or any of them.

The Madras government argued that we are giving reservation on the basis of Article 46. Here the Madras Government was also right as Article 46 supports it. In fact, Article 46 talks about promotion of educational and economic interests of SCs and STs and weaker sections. 

But since Article 46 is the Directive Principle of State Policy (DPSP), not a Fundamental Right; That is why the Supreme Court considered the Fundamental Rights above the DPSP.

To reject this, the Government of India made the first constitutional amendment. Under which Article 15(4) was added and it was arranged that Nothing in this article or in article 29(2) shall prevent it from making any special provision for any backward classes of citizens, or for the STs and the SCs. 

In this way, the path of reservation in admission in educational institutions was cleared for the backward class, SC class or ST category. 

Background of reservation in admission in educational institutions
in 1954, the Ministry of Education suggested that 20 per cent seats should be reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in educational institutions, with a relaxation of 5 per cent in the minimum qualifying marks for admission, wherever necessary.
In 1982, it was specified that 15 per cent and 7.5 per cent of vacancies in public sector and government-aided educational institutions should be reserved for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe candidates, respectively.

Again Article 15(5) was added through the 93rd Constitutional Amendment 2005 and it was arranged that – Nothing in this article and Article 19(1)(g) shall prevent the State from making any special provision for socially and educationally backward citizens and ST or SC categories in admission to educational institutions.

[Remember here that this includes government educational institutions as well as private educational institutions. but (except for minority educational institutions under Article 30(1))] ]

And then in 2019 through the 103rd Constitutional Amendment, Article 15(6) was added and reservation was made for the Economically Weaker Section (EWS).

For this, it was written in Article 15(6) that nothing in Article 15, Article 29(2) and Article 19(1)(g) will prevent EWS from entering educational institutions. In this way, a provision of 10 percent reservation was made in admission for EWS.

Background of reservation for Economically Backward Classes (EWS)
The provision of reservation in admission to EWS under Article 15(6), and in jobs under Article 16(6) was done under the 103rd Constitutional Amendment Act 2019. We will talk a little more about this later, but remember some things;
* In 1991, the Congress government of PV Narasimha Rao had also given reservation on economic basis. But it was challenged by Indira Sawhney. And the Supreme Court rejected the matter of reservation on economic grounds, on the basis that one thing in the constitution it has been said to give reservation only on the basis of social and educational backwardness, not on economic basis. And secondly, the total reservation would have gone above 50 percent.
* In 2006, the Congress government constituted the Major Sinho Commission to study the economic backwardness in the general category. The recommendations of this commission are also considered as a basis behind the BJP government giving reservation to EWS in 2019.
* In 2012, Congress leader of Haryana Ajay Singh Yadav had also talked about giving reservation on economic basis to OBC class as well as upper class castes.
* In addition, in 2008, 10 percent reservation was given to poor students in government colleges by the Kerala government. Which was challenged in the High Court by the Muslim side. But in 2010, the Kerala High Court upheld the economic reservation. The court even said that merit based competition should be encouraged by moving away from the religion and caste based reservation system.

[Remember here that EWS will include only those, which will be determined by the government from time to time on family income and other economic indicators.] [And for EWS also includes Government educational institutions as well as private educational institutions, (except minority educational institutions under Article 30(1))]

Note- Article 15(3) states that the state can make special provisions for women and children. This can be seen by linking women to reservation or preference.]

🔹 Evolution of Reservation in employment or appointment

On 15 August 1947, a month after the Indians came to power (21 September 1947), a directive was issued, under which the SC was given 12.5% ​​reservation in recruitments through open competition. Whereas 16.66% reservation was given to SC in the recruitment without open competition.

open competition
Recruitment through open competition means recruitment by any recruitment organization (UPSC, SSC etc.) on the basis of written examination or interview or both. At the same time, when recruitment is done in addition to this method, it is called non-open competition.

[See the FAQ Pdf at the end of the article for open competition and non-open competition]

By a resolution in September 1950, 5% reservation was also given to ST. That is, from 1950, both SC and ST started getting reservation.

The 1961 census showed that the SC population is 14.64% and the ST population is 6.80%. Based on this population, the reservation percentage for SC and ST was increased to 15% and 7.5% respectively.

Further census of 1971 population was not done and the exact result of 1981 census could not come out as census could not be conducted in Assam due to political instability caused by illegal immigrants.

However, even after that, the population of SC and ST remained about 15-16% and 7-8 percent respectively of the total population of the country. That is why even today SC and ST get only 15% and 7.5% reservation respectively.

But what happened in 1992-93 was the entry of OBC. And after that, with reference to reservation in employment and appointments, one amendment after the other, which is still going on, so to understand this we can start with the Mandal Commission.

| OBC Reservation and Mandal Commission

The Janata Party government of Morarji Desai constituted the Second Backward Classes Commission in 1979 Presided over by  B P. Mandal.

The purpose of this commission was to find out the social and educational status of the people belonging to the backward classes and to suggest to the government what can be done for this. The commission submitted its report to the President in 1980, the main points of which were as follows;

  • The commission identified 3743 backward castes, which was about 52 percent of the country’s population.
  • Recommended 27 percent reservation for these backward castes.

As we know, the Janata Party government had fallen in 1979 and again in 1980, Indira Gandhi’s government came to power. From 1980 to 1989, the Congress governments of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi; did not take any notice of the commission’s report.

In 1990, the National Front government of VP Singh announced the recommendation made by the Mandal Commission i.e. 27 percent reservation. There was a lot of opposition to this. Mainly two factions were formed, one faction was in support of this reservation and the other was in opposition. The issue got so heated that many students set themselves on fire in protest against reservation.

Later in October 1990, Ram Janmabhoomi dispute occurs in which kar sevaks are fired by Mulayam Singh government and due to this the BJP withdrew its support to the National Front government and VP Singh’s government fell.

Then for some time Chandrashekhar becomes the Prime Minister and then in June 1991, the Congress comes to power and in 1991, the Congress government of PV Narasimha Rao introduced two changes in it ;

(1) In this 27% OBC reservation, economic basis to poor people on priority, and
(2) 10% separate reservation for poor or economically weaker sections of the general categories.

A lawyer named Indira Sawhney challenged this in the Supreme Court. The same case became famous in the name of Indira Sawhney and others vs Government of India.

Indira Sawhney’s argument

Indira Sawhney raised the following points in the Supreme Court;

  • Caste cannot be the main basis of reservation.
  • Reservation cannot exceed 50%.
  • Reservation cannot be on economic basis because Article 15(4) and 15(5) talks of social and educational backwardness and not on economic basis.
  • Whether Article 16(1) is consistent with Article 16(4) because in one place it is forbidden to do the same thing and on the other hand the same thing is being asked to do.

A bench of 9 judges sat on this and the verdict was given at 6:3 which was as follows –

  • The Supreme Court held that the basis of reservation can be caste and Article 16(1) is not inconsistent with 16(4) but both are implemented with the help of each other.
  • The Supreme Court rejected the 10% additional reservation for economically backward people but retained the 27% OBC reservation subject to certain conditions. The conditions were as follows –

(a) Persons belonging to the creamy layer of OBCs should be denied the facility of reservation.

[Remember here that the creamy layer is a system under which persons with certain incomes are denied reservation. For how much income individuals are included under this; Read this article – Creamy Layer: Background, Theory, Facts…]

(b) The system of reservation should be for appointment only and not for promotion.

(c) Except in exceptional circumstances, the total reserved quota should not exceed 50%.

(d) If the reservation seats are not filled, then they can be filled further, that is, carry forward rule will work here but in this also the principle of 50 percent should be followed.

Overall, this was the case of Indira Sawhney, which is considered a landmark judgment in the matter of reservation. Remember this thing here that the arrangement of vertical and horizontal reservation was done under this judgment. Under which SC, ST and OBC were placed in the category of vertical and Divyangjan (physically challenged) and women in the category of horizontal reservation. To understand this in detail – read the concept of vertical and horizontal reservation.

Following this arrangement given by the Supreme Court, the government took some steps;

🔹 Ram Nandan Prasad (Justice R N Prasad) committee was formed to identify the creamy layer in OBC, in 1993 his report was accepted and the creamy layer system was started. [Read the given article to understand the whole concept of creamy layer in detail]

🔹 In 1993, the National Commission for Backward Classes was formed, whose main task was to add and subtract names in the reservation list. [Read the given article to understand the whole concept of National Commission for Backward Classes in detail]

🔹 You will remember that in the Indira Sawhney case, reservation in promotion was forbidden. But in the matter of promotion, a new clause Article 16(4A) was added to Article 16 through the 77th Constitutional Amendment 1995. Under which power was given to the states that if in the eyes of the state, the representation of scheduled castes and tribes in the state service is not sufficient, then reservation in promotion can be given.

This happened that out of two persons working on the same post (of which one is SC and one is general category person), the person of SC category will get promotion first and he will be senior to the person of general category. In this, the general category person showed inequality and he challenged this provision in the court.

Background of reservation in promotion
Giving reservation in promotion was not a new thing, but it had started in the 1960s. In 1963, reservation in promotion was provided by selection in Group C and Group D and in the same year reservation in departmental competitive examination was limited to Class III and Class IV jobs.
The situation was slightly changed in 1968, reservation in jobs for categories II, III and IV in limited departmental examination, and promotion by selection to grades III and IV, subject to the condition that the element of direct recruitment did not exceed 50 per cent. needed.
In 1974, reservation in promotion from Group C to Group B, and from Group B to Group A by selection at the bottom, was made subject to the condition that the element of direct recruitment, (if any) did not exceed 50.

Virpal Singh Vs Government of India 1995 and Ajit Singh Janjua Vs Government of Punjab case 1996 

Under these cases, it was ruled by the court that – SC or ST category is given reservation in promotion and he becomes senior to the general category person; This is fine, but after that when the general category gets promotion again, it will regain its position again. That is, if the general category person was already senior to the SC category person, then he will again become his senior. This was called the Catch up Rule .

But to put an end to this system of the court, again in 2001, the then government made the 85th amendment in the constitution and added it in Article 16(4A) that the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes would get the benefit of consequential seniority in the case of promotion of government servants. [That is, the Catch up Rule was abolished under this provision.]

Overall, the situation has become such that through the 77th Constitutional Amendment, the SC and ST category had got reservation in promotion, now through the 85th Constitutional Amendment Act, the benefit of consequential seniority has also been got.

What is Consequential seniority ?
Suppose a general category man is in level 3 in a government job. A man from the scheduled caste is appointed at the same level but junior to a man from the general category. Since there is a system of reservation in promotion, that’s why the Scheduled Caste man gets promotion before the general category and now he becomes senior to that general category man. Consequential seniority says that now even if that general category man gets promotion, he will remain junior to the scheduled caste man.

Carry Forward Rule

In the Indira Sawhney case, the Supreme Court approved the carry forward rule, but also imposed a condition that it should not exceed 50%. In fact, the rule of carry forward was going on since 1955 but it used to work in a different way.

Let us understand this with an example – suppose in a year there are vacancies in total 50 seats and out of that 10 seats are to be filled by persons belonging to SC category. If for some reason suppose 8 out of 10 seats remained vacant. So those 8 seats will be carried forward to the next year. Now suppose next year again vacancies arise in 50 seats and out of that 10 seats are to be filled by SC category persons then now those seats will become 18 because 8 seats are also vacant from last year. The problem in this was that if for some reason all the SC seats are not filled for some years, then there will come a time when all the seats will go to SC only and there will be no vacancies for other categories.

That is why in the Indira Sawhney case, the Supreme Court fixed an upper limit of 50% for the carry forward rule so that in any case 50% of the seats would be available to other classes of persons.

But the government was not happy with this as it wanted that there should be no upper limit on the number of seats under carry forward. That is why the then government, through the 81st Constitutional Amendment 2000, added a new clause 4 ‘B’ in Article 16 and under it it was provided that the reservation given under Article 16(4) and 16(4A); If the seats remain vacant in any year and are carried forward to the next year, then the next year they will be treated as separate seats and not by adding to the vacancies generated in that year.

Let us understand this with an example – suppose that in a year out of the total 100 seats, 15 seats were to be filled by the persons belonging to SC category but in that year only 5 seats were filled and 10 seats remained vacant. Suppose again next year there are vacancies in 100 seats and 15 seats are for SC category persons then 10 seats from last year will not be added to it but it will remain 15 and those 10 seats will be counted separately from that. Hope you have understood these things till now.

What’s next….

There is an article related to this, Article 335, under which it has been said that the reservation given to SC and ST should not affect the administrative efficiency. But it used to happen that people belonging to SC and ST category were given relaxation in the qualification marks or their standards were reduced. Keeping this in mind, the Supreme Court in Vinod Kumar Vs. Government of India case 1996 quashed such exemption keeping in view the administrative efficiency.

The government also did not like this and to implement it again, through the 82nd Constitutional Amendment 2000, it was written in Article 335 that in respect of any post in favor of SC or ST category or for giving reservation in promotion, to be taken. The qualification marks in the examinations may be reduced or the evaluation standard may be reduced.


M. Nagraj Vs. Government of India Case 2006 and thereafter Evolution of Reservation

So far we have read; Reservation in promotion was provided by the 77th Constitutional Amendment Act of 1995, consequential seniority in promotion was established by the 85th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2001, the Carry Forward rule was established by the 81st Constitutional Amendment Act, 2000 and by the 82nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 2000, exempted the qualification marks for SC and ST category..

All these cases were challenged by M. Nagaraj (who was representing the upper castes) in the year 2002. The Supreme Court gave its verdict on this in 2006 and declared all the above mentioned constitutional amendments valid but fixed three criteria for reservation in promotion for SC and ST. which is something like this;

  1. There should be backwardness . That is, it is necessary for SC and ST to be socially and educationally backward.
  2. Inadequate representation is necessary . That is, there should not be adequate representation of SC and ST categories in government posts.
  3. Administrative efficiency should not be affected . That is, such a reservation policy should not harm the administrative efficiency.

Overall, the Supreme Court made it clear that the government can give reservation in promotion but it has to accept these three conditions. The central and state governments turned against these parameters as it did not suit them.

This is because now they have to collect quantitative data of backwardness of SC and ST first. Then the representation is insufficient, quantitative data has to be collected to prove it and lastly it has to be kept in mind that all this is not affecting the administrative efficiency (Article 335).

Due to these three provisions, the Center and many states expressed their indifference to the decision of the Supreme Court and pointed out that due to this decision of the Supreme Court many appointments have been stalled. That is, the government wanted the Supreme Court to hear it again.

🔹 The next major decision in this sequence was given by the Supreme Court in Jarnail Singh vs Laxmi Narayan case in September 2018. In which the Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court refused to reconsider the decisions of M Nagaraj 2006, but at the same time removed the first condition given in the M Nagaraj case.

That is, the condition of collecting quantitative data for backwardness was removed. But at the same time added one more condition under which now SC and ST category person coming under creamy layer cannot be given reservation in promotion.

[understand from here– Complete concept of creamy layer ]

However, in May 2019, the Supreme Court, while delivering its judgment in BK Pavitra v. Government of India Case 2, Justice Chandrachud argued that Jarnail Singh introduced the creamy layer principle for reservation in promotion and not consequential seniority.

In particular, he held that consequential seniority is the result of reservation in promotion and not additional benefits. Therefore, he held that the Creamy Layer Test can be applied only at the level of reservation in promotion and not for the subsequent consequential seniority.

Development order of reservation in 2022…

In fact, in September 2018, the Supreme Court ruled in the Jarnail Singh case, under which the obligation to collect quantitative data of backwardness was abolished, but apart from that both other conditions were applicable. i.e. submission of quantitative data demonstrating the inadequacy of their representation in public employment for granting reservation in promotion to SCs and STs and ensuring that all this does not affect the administrative efficiency under Article 335.

The state governments had filed group petitions seeking clarification from the Supreme Court on the implementation of the same judgment in the Jarnail Singh case.

In the same case, again in January 2022, a decision of the Supreme Court came. Under which the state was compelled by the Supreme Court to submit quantitative data of inadequacy of SCs and STs. And it was also said that the criterion for collecting this data will have to be made by the state government itself.

Along with this the most important question was how to collect quantitative data; To this, the Supreme Court said that the cadre should be treated as a unit for collecting quantitative data and not a full service.

[Overall this is, the Evolution Of Reservation and the position till 2022. However, keep in mind that Jarnail Singh Vs Laxmi Narayan case is still pending.]

Overall, this is such a controversial issue that for many states also there is a separate decision of the Supreme Court and many cases are still going on in the Supreme Court. Here we have discussed only the main points. Hope you have understood the development sequence of reservation.

Next we will understand the concept behind reservation which is based on roster system; Such as 13 point roster and 200 point roster. So be sure to understand that too.

understand from here– Roster – The Maths Behind Reservation [4/4]

| Some Facts about Reservation

🔹 In determining the creamy layer eligibility for reservation of OBC, only the family income is taken as the basis, whereas in deciding the eligibility for reservation of EWS, his family as well as his own income is taken as the basis.

🔹 Agricultural income and property like agricultural land and commercial land are also included in the eligibility for reservation of EWS, whereas agricultural income and related properties are not included in the determination of creamy layer of OBC.

🔹 There is no provision of creamy layer in SC and ST reservation like OBC.

🔹 SC ST and OBC have not been sub-divided on the basis of social, economic and educational backwardness. This is related to the recommendations of the Rohini Commission. There is talk of sub-division.

🔹 There is no provision to deprive the next generations of persons who have taken the benefit of reservation from reservation.

🔹 The reservation system in India is a caste based reservation system.

Reservation Scope Hindi FAQs (pdf)

More FAQs [pdf]

Reservation in India [Reservation in India] [1/4][1/4]
Constitutional basis of reservation and its various aspects [2/4][2/4]
Roster – The Maths Behind Reservation [4/4][4/4]

S.Vinod Kumar And Anr vs Union Of India And Ors on 1 October, 1996
the Judgment in B.K. Pavitra v Union of India-II
Reservation in Promotion Jarnail Singh v Lacchmi Narain Gupta
Reservation in Promotion (Clarifications) Jan 2022
Indra Sawhney & Others v. Union of India
M. Nagaraj & Others vs Union Of India & Others on 19 October, 2006
Department of public enterprise, document released in 2016
Virpal Singh v. Government of India 1995
Ajit Singh Janjua Vs Punjab Government Case 1996
Constitution of India revised 2020
Reservation in India
Constitution of India
Commentary on constitution (fundamental rights) – d d basu
FAQs Related to Reservation
National Commission for Scheduled Castes [NCSC
National Commission for Scheduled Tribes [NCST]
National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC)
Right to Equality
Fundamental Rights Introduction : Article 12 & 13
Conflict Between Fundamental Rights and DPSP