<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a setback for the Vasundhara Raje government, the Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday stayed Rajasthan’s move to grant reservation benefits to Gujjars. The top court further directed the state to cap reservations to Gujjars up to 50 per cent until the High Court finally decides the issue.The order came on the heels of an appeal filed by the Rajasthan government challenging a November 9 High Court (HC) order which restrained the state from implementing a bill that provided five per cent quota to five OBCs (Other Backward Classes) and six sub-castes, including Gujjars, raising the reservation in the state to 54 per cent.The order, pronounced by a bench headed by the Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, comes months ahead of next year’s Rajasthan Assembly polls.”…taking into consideration the facts and circumstances of the case and various decisions of this court, we are inclined to restrain the state government from taking any action or decision on the administrative side or in any manner conferring the benefit of reservation, which will have the result of crossing the total reservation beyond 50 per cent,” the SC said. During the course of hearing, state government said that it has power to pass such a bill and the court cannot interfere with the legislative process. Agreeing with this reasoning, the apex court bench, that also comprised Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, proceeded to partially set aside the HC order.Earlier this month, Rajasthan High court had said that since the SC had already asked the state government to maintain status quo after the 2015 Gujjar reservation Bill was struck down by Rajasthan High Court, “it will not be appropriate to allow the state government to do anything contrary to the Supreme Court’s order and they are restrained from acting upon the Bill.”The Rajasthan Backward Classes (Reservation of Seats in Educational Institutions in the State and of Appointment and Posts in Services under the State) Bill, 2017, which was passed on October 26 this year, sought to increase OBC quota from 21 per cent to 26 per cent, and create a separate category of ‘More Backward Classes’ for Banjara, Gadiya Lohar, Gujjar, Raika and Gadariya castes, giving them a five per cent reservation.Ganga Sahay Sharma, the petitioner who had approached the Rajasthan HC against the bill, said the state government introduced reservation bills for Gujjars in 2008 and in 2015; both were quashed by the High Court, mainly because they exceeded the 50 per cent reservation limit set by the apex court.
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