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Karnataka HC issues notice in plea challenging 25% domicile reservation at NLSIU Bangalore

Justice Krishna Dixit passed the order in a petition filed by a 17-year-old student, questioning the constitutional validity of the move to reserve 25% seats at NLSIU for students of Karnataka.

Rintu Mariam Biju

The Karnataka High Court recently issued notice in a writ petition challenging the 25% domicile reservation proposed to be introduced at National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bangalore (Master Balachandar Krishnan v. State of Karnataka).

Notice has been issued to the Centre, the state government, Bar Council of India and NLSIU.

A Single Judge Bench of Justice Krishna Dixit passed the order in a petition filed by 17-year-old student Balachandar Krishnan, questioning the constitutional validity of the recent amendment, which reserves 25% seats at NLSIU for students of Karnataka.

In its order, the Bench also clarified that the contesting respondents may file their statements of objections on or before August 13, failing which, "it shall be construed that they may not have much to resist the writ petition".

The petition filed by Krishnan states that he had applied to take the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) with a view to securing a seat in the five-year BA LLB course at NLSIU. However, three months after the CLAT application process ended, the state government had enacted the National Law School of India (Amendment) Act, 2020 on April 27, 2020.

The Amendment Act had introduced 25% horizontal reservation for students who have studied in Karnataka for over 10 years preceding CLAT 2020.

Under the circumstances, the plea states that the Amendment Act will adversely affect the petitioner's opportunity to get a seat in NLSIU.

"The Impugned Act has prejudicially affected the Petitioner’s chances of admission in NLSIU, Bengaluru, after the application process for CLAT – 2020 had commenced, i.e. on 01 January 2020 and after the Petitioner has applied for the same."

Plea filed in Karnataka High Court

The plea goes on to contend that the Amendment Act is arbitrary and ultra vires the Constitution of India. Further, the same also fails to satisfy the twin test of reasonable classification within the contours of Article 14 of the Constitution of India.

It is stated that since the NLSIU is neither a government educational institution nor does it receive any aid from the government, it cannot be subject to reservation.

Further, even the Apex Court has laid down in its decisions that the state cannot reserve any seats in unaided educational institutions, the plea notes.

This apart, the plea also contends that,

"Horizontal institutional reservation to the students of Karnataka, particularly at this belated stage, is wholly illegal and impermissible."

Therefore, on these grounds, the plea seeks to challenge the constitutional validity of the Amendment Act.

Senior Advocate KG Raghavan along with Advocate Karan Joseph will appear for the petitioner in the case.

The matter has been posted for next hearing on August 13.

Earlier this month, a petition challenging the newly approved domicile reservation at NLSIU, Bangalore was withdrawn after the Delhi High Court declined to entertain it on the ground of forum non conveniens. (Shubham Kumar Jha vs NLSIU & Ors)

Karnataka HC - NLS domicile reservation.pdf
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