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Case No.AIR 1993 SC 477
Date of Judgement16.11.1992
CourtSupreme court 
Appellant Indra Sawhney
RespondentUnion of India
BenchM.Kania, M. Venkatachaliah, S.R. Pandian, T. Ahmadi, K. Singh, P. Sawant, R. Sahai, B.J. Reddy, T.K. Thommen.

Introduction: –

This case deals with “Reservation” basically under this case it states that 50 percent of reservation is provided in jobs or posts for economically backward class, division of backward class. Indra Sawhney case was one of the landmark cases which was decided by the nine-judge bench.

Facts of the case: –

  1. In the year 1978-79 the backward class commission (mandal commission) was established which was constituted by the Janta Party Government.
  2. The work of this commission is to identify the caste or class, so that they provide reservation to other backward classes accordingly because the constitution states about socially economically backward classes.
  3. There is also other task for this commission to find out whether reservation should be given on an economic basis or how much reservation should be provided to the other backward classes.
  4. In the year 1980 the government was changed due to which the idea of B.P. Mandal commission failed. Under the report of the mandal commission they recommended for the 27 percent reservation but due to government changes it got failed or not implemented.
  5. Once again in the year 1989 Janta Dal Government tries to implement this report but it got failed but in the year 1991 Narsimha Rao Government implemented it.
  6. After the implementation it got challenged in the supreme court by saying that caste can not be the sole basis of reservation.
  7. In the case they also challenged that reservation can not exceed 50 percent mark and the reservation can not be based on economic criteria and they also stated that Article 16(1) is an exception to Article 16(4).

Issues raised in the case: –

  1. What should be the criteria of reservation of socio- educational backwardness or economic backwardness?
  2. Whether the backward class mentioned in Article 15(4) is similar to Article 16(4)
  3. Whether everyone is eligible for taking the reservation under socio-educational backward classes?
  4. What should be the maximum reservation provided to other backward classes and whether reservation should be given in promotion also?
  5. Whether Article 16(4) is an exception to Article 16(1)?

 Contentions: –

  1. Contention of the appellant: –
  1. The petitioner stated that whatever the report is presented by the mandal commission is damaging to the public administration system.
  2. The petitioner also stated that the reservation should not only be based on the caste reservation not only based on economic, social, and educational factors.
  3. The petitioner also stated that to decide the quantum of reservation must follow the latest census.
  4. Contentions of the respondent: –
  1. The respondent stated that these steps are taken to uplift the backward classes of people who are unable to avail their rights.
  2. The respondent also stated that the repost presented by the commission is not just a nominal repost it considers a lot of things as well as while preparing this report the commission has passed various tests to figure out the whole scenario.
  3. The mandal commission report is made under article 340 of Indian constitution,1959 with the assent of the president of India.

Judgement of the case: –

The supreme court held that by accepting the 27 % reservation quota of other backward class and rejecting the 10 % extra reservation quota for economically backward sections of higher caste.

 The supreme court also stated that the backward class under Article 16(4) can be identified based on caste and not only on the economic basis because Article 340 talks about the social and educational backwardness not economic backwardness.

The supreme court also mentioned in its rule that the backward class mentioned in Article 15(4) is related to scheduled caste and scheduled tribes and the class mentioned in Article 16(4) talks about other backward classes, so they both are different.

The supreme court also held that the reservation is provided based on creamy layer criteria and creamy layer criteria is fixed for only other backward classes not for SC/ST. It was also stated that reservation shall not exceed 50 percent, moreover no reservation in promotion.

The supreme court also stated that Article 16(4) does allow the classification of backward classes and more backward classes.

In the end, any new dispute regarding criteria is raised, decided by the supreme court only.

Conclusion: –

To be concluded here, this whole case moves around reservation. Many issues were raised under which whatever issues the supreme court finds genuine, solve it or whatever issues are out of context is not considered under this case. The judgement is drawn by considering the points that whatever the judgement is made should not prejudice anybody or does not affect justice.

Reference of the case: –



This Case Analysis is written by SOMYA RAJAWAT student of Maharani Laxmi Bai Arts and Commerce College, Gwalior Madhya Pradesh.

Intern at legal Vidhiya.


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