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Bihar's Reservation Laws: Ninth Schedule Controversy



  Nov 29, 2023

Bihar’s Reservation Laws and the Ninth Schedule



What are the new laws Bihar seeks to add to the Ninth Schedule?

Bihar proposes to include the Bihar Reservation of Vacancies in Posts and Services Amendment Act, 2023 and the Bihar Reservation Act, 2023 in the Ninth Schedule of the Indian Constitution.

What is the Ninth Schedule?

The Ninth Schedule of the Indian Constitution contains a list of laws that are not subject to judicial review, meaning that they cannot be challenged in court on the grounds of violating fundamental rights.

Why does Bihar want these laws in the Ninth Schedule?

Inclusion in the Ninth Schedule would protect the new reservation laws from being struck down by the judiciary for exceeding the 50% ceiling on reservations set by the Supreme Court’s Indra Sawhney case decision.

How will these laws affect reservations in Bihar?

These laws aim to raise the total quantum of reservations in Bihar to 75%, which includes an increase in quotas for Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST), and Other Backward Classes (OBC), as well as a 10% quota for the economically weaker sections.

Have other states made similar moves?

Yes, other states have also attempted to exceed the 50% reservation limit and sought to protect such laws by placing them in the Ninth Schedule. However, the Supreme Court has ruled that even laws under the Ninth Schedule could be subject to judicial review if they violate the “basic structure” of the Constitution.

What is the controversy around the Ninth Schedule?

The controversy stems from the fact that placing laws in the Ninth Schedule to shield them from judicial review could be seen as a way to circumvent the Supreme Court’s guidelines on reservations, leading to debates on the balance between affirmative action and the right to equality.

What are the implications if these laws are added to the Ninth Schedule?

If added, it could set a precedent for other states to follow, potentially leading to a re-examination of the reservation policy in India and its limits. It could also raise questions on the use of the Ninth Schedule to protect laws from judicial scrutiny.


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