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The Supreme Court today held that a government order passed by the erstwhile State of Andhra Pradesh allowing for 100% reservation in teaching posts for Scheduled Tribes in scheduled areas is illegal and impermissible (Chebrolu Leela Prasad Rao & Ors. v. State of AP & Ors.).
A Constitution Bench of Justices Arun Mishra, Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, MR Shah, and Aniruddha Bose therefore quashed the government order passed in the year 2000, which provided for such reservation. This order covered the territorial jurisdiction of the then undivided Andhra Pradesh.
The Bench held,
"...It was least expected from the functionary like Government to act in aforesaid manner as they were bound by the dictum laid down by this Court in Indra Sawhney (supra) and other decisions holding that the limit of reservation not to exceed 50%. There was no rhyme or reason with the State Government to resort to 100% reservation."
The Court said that providing 100% reservation is "not permissible under the Constitution of India" and specified that the outer limit for reservations as laid down in the Indra Sawhney judgment stands at 50%. The Court also added that the notification was violative of Articles 14 and 16(4) of the Constitution.
The Bench said that as an extension of quashing these orders, the appointments made in excess of the permissible limit of 50% should be consequently set aside.
However, the Court stated that in this specific case, the incumbent persons appointed cannot be held to be at fault, and therefore their appointments will sustain.
The Court held,
"In the peculiar circumstance, we save the appointments conditionally that the reorganised States i.e.the States of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana not to attempt a similar exercise in the future. If they do so and exceed the limit of reservation, there shall not be any saving of the appointments made, w.e.f. 1986 till date. We direct the respondentsStates not to exceed the limits of reservation in future. Ordered accordingly."
The Court, in unequivocal terms, expressed its displeasure with the decision of the government of the undivided Andhra Pradesh to pass such order back in 2000. It is noted by the Court that a similar order was passed in 1986 which was quashed by the Administrative Tribunal. That decision was challenged before the Supreme Court, but the appeal stood withdrawn in 1998. The Court notes,
"After withdrawal of the appeal from this Court, it was expected of the erstwhile State of Andhra Pradesh not to resort to such illegality of providing 100% reservation once again. But instead, it issued G.O. Ms. No.3 of 2000, which was equally impermissible, even if the A.P. Regulation of Reservation and Appointment to Public Services Act, 1997 would have been amended, in that event also providing reservation beyond 50% was not permissible."
The 2000 government order was challenged before the High Court of Andhra Pradesh, which had upheld its validity. The appeal then came to the Supreme Court and was ultimately heard by a Constitution Bench earlier this year.
It was contended by the appellants that the order which provided for 100% reservation to Scheduled Tribes in scheduled areas for posts of teachers was discriminatory and therefore in violation of Article 16 of the Constitution of India. This order was not only discriminatory against the class of people not belonging to reserved categories, but also against other reserved categories, it was contended.
The Constitution Bench of the Court, after hearing the case, reserved its verdict on February 13 and delivered its judgment on Wednesday.
The Court also imposed costs of Rs 5 lakh to be shared by present day States of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.