While holding that reservation exceeding 50% ceiling is unconstitutional, the Chhattisgarh High Court has set aside the decision of the State Government to raise the quota to 58% in government jobs and admissions in educational institutions.

"On the basis of materials on record, we are of the opinion that no special case is made out for breaching the reservation ceiling limit of 50% while increasing the reservation to 58%. Inadequacy of representation in services under the State or inadequacy of representation in educational institutions is relevant to the extent reservation is sought to be pegged below 50% but if the ceiling is to be crossed, then inadequacy in representation cannot be the sole determining factor and there has to be exceptional circumstances.", the Bench of Chief Justice Arup Kumar Goswami and Justice Parth Prateem Sahu observed.

Vinay Kumar Pandey, counsel for Petitioners, submitted that as the reservation exceeded 50%, it has violated the principles of equality of opportunity under Article 16(1) of the Constitution of India.

He further averred that no exceptional circumstance is made out for breaching the 50% ceiling of reservation and that the State has brought the amendment as a measure of proportional representation, which is not permissible in law.

Also, Counsel, Mateen Siddique appearing for the petitioners while endorsing the submissions of Advocate Pandey, submitted that Section 3 of the Act of 2012 is ultra vires as without there being any compelling or extraordinary circumstances, 58% seats have been reserved in the proportion of 32% for ST, 12% for SC and 14% for OBC.

On the other hand, S.C.Verma, Advocate General submitted that incidence of poverty in the State of Chhattisgarh amongst SCs is lower in comparison to all India figures while in case of STs, there is a substantial higher incidence of poverty.

He submitted that the decision to amend the reservation policy was taken after taking into consideration the relevant aspects of the matter by which proportionate reservation is introduced in the State cadre posts.

The Court placed reliance on the Judgment of the Supreme Court in Indra Sawhney & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors. where it was held that the power conferred by Article 16(4) should be exercised reasonably and fairly, in a fair manner and within reasonably limits - and what is more reasonable than to say that reservation under Clause 16(4) shall not exceed 50% of the appointments or posts, barring certain extra-ordinary situations.

Accordingly, it was held that it is an irresistible conclusion that the reservation contemplated in Article 16(4) should not exceed 50%.

"Any reservation contemplated in Article 16(4) should not exceed 50% was held to be the rule in Indra Sawhney (supra), which can be breached only on certain extraordinary situations and on a special case made out.", the Court noted.

The Court observed that no special case was made out for breaching the reservation ceiling of 50%.

Cause Title- Guru Ghasidas Sahitya Avam Sanskriti Academy v. State of Chhattisgarh & Anr. with Ors.

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