NLSIU Reservations Case

I have just come across a fascinating case that was recently decided by the Karnataka High Court (judgment here). The petitioner challenged the admission of certain persons under the quota reserved for the Scheduled Caste category in the National Law School of India University, Bangalore. I have only had an occasion to briefly study the judgment, but I believe the primary contention was that Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order 1950 lists different castes and declares them to be Scheduled Caste with regard to the State of Karnataka. In other words, other Scheduled Castes (i.e., from other States) not included in the list would not be Scheduled Castes for the purposes of the State of Karnataka. The petitioner contended that NLSIU is not a national level institution since it was established by a State law. The respondents contended, inter alia, that NLSIU was a national level institution, and that other such institutions like AIIMS followed a similar procedure (of extending reservations for Scheduled Castes and Tribes across the country). The Court has held against NLSIU: “Even if it is to be held that the State has in fact established [NLSIU] as a national level institute, the reservation for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe candidates have to be as per the Presidential Order, 1950 as declared in relation to Karnataka State… it has to be held… [NLSIU] could not have extended reservation to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes of other States ignoring the Presidential Order…”
I hope to study the judgment and write a little more in due course. I believe that NLSIU has appealed to a DB of the High Court.

UPDATE: There is another recent judgment on exactly the same issue (Articles 341, 342 of the Constitution, notifications thereof, and whether benefits to SC/ST’s can only go to those of a particular state) by the Delhi High Court (Justice Ravindra Bhat).

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  • The judgement seems to be in line with the Supreme Court holding in Shubhash Chandra v Delhi Subordinate Services Board decided recently

  • The Supreme Court in a recent judgment ( Subhash Chandra v. Delhi Subordinate Services Board, delivered on 4.8.2009) may have some bearing on this controversy. The judgment, which was one of the last few that Justice Sinha delivered, has held that whether a person is entitled for a reservation benefit would be decided on the basis of the state where the benefit is sought, and not the state from where the person originates (thus, the petitioner in that case, who did not fall in the reserved category in Delhi, was denied the benefit of reservation in Delhi.)

    The Subhash Chandra judgment has been discussed on this blog itself at

  • Infact, the decision does take into consideration the Subhash Chandra judgment which has been relied on by the Ld. Sr. Counsel for the petitioner for repelling the contention of the respondents. (page 41)

    This is going to have a very widespread effect, in terms of admissions to all law schools (which are all created under State legislation) and seems likely that the issue would ultimately reach and be settled by the Supreme Court.

  • the Delhi HC judgement in Kavita Khorwal's case, while distinguishing the case of DU clearly states:
    34. As regards Central Government institutions, such as All India Institute of Medical Sciences and Central Universities, set up under Parliamentary enactments, however, the situation necessarily has to be different.

    Now, the NLSIU case facts clearly show that its not the nature and composition of the University but the manner in which it is set up that determines whether the reservation shall stand on a national basis..(para 26 particularly)There seems to be a constant judicial opinion on this matter and there appears to be no controversy to me..

  • Does this affect the rights of the next 13 highest-ranked SC students from Karnataka as well? Would they need to file separate petitions?