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Day 2 – Q 2.What were the salient features of the 1992 Indra Sawhney judgement? How did it shape the subsequent reservation policy in India? Examine.

2. What were the salient features of the 1992 Indra Sawhney judgement? How did it shape the subsequent reservation policy in India? Examine.

1992 इंद्र सावनी के फैसले की मुख्य विशेषताएं क्या थीं? भारत में आने वाली आरक्षण नीति को कैसे आकार दिया? जांच करें।


Divide the question in two parts. First part is ‘Salient features of Indra sawhney judgment’ and second is ‘shaping of subsequent reservation policy’. With a short introduction to the case, start the salient features directly. Then in second part, enlist the subsequent events in the process of formation of current reservation policy. Then conclude the answer with a short way forward.


In the beginning of 1990s, central government implemented the mandal commission recommendations for reservation of other backward classes. This created a chaos in various sections of the society. Consequently, PIL was filed, and resulted in one of the most significant judgment namely “Indra Sawhney case”. Also known as Mandal Case became the corner stone in the present reservation structure of the country.

Salient features of Indra Sawhney judgment

  • It recognized socially and economically backward classes as a category and recognized the validity of the 27 per cent reservation.
  • The concept of ‘creamy layer’ gained currency through this judgment. Those among the OBCs who had transcended their social backwardness were to be excluded from the reservation.
  • It laid down a 50 per cent limit on reservations and observed that economic, social and educational criteria were needed to define backward classes.
  • Reservation for backward classes (which include OBCs and SCs & STs) should be confined to initial appointments and not extend to promotions.

Subsequent developments in shaping the reservation policy

  • To circumvent the Supreme Court judgment, parliament enacted 77th, 81st, 82nd, and 85th amendment acts, and inserted the provisions for reservation in promotions and carried forward quota (in case vacancies were not filled in a year).
  • Cases were filed to judge the constitutionality of these amendments. To name one the most famous is Nagraj judgment of 2006. In this case court upheld the validity of all the four amendments and provided for additional provisions.
  • In this case court asked to apply creamy layer condition to SC/ST, also asked states to provide quantifiable data if they want to give reservation for certain community.
  • Recently, In the Jarnail Singh case, the court was requested to revisit the Nagraj judgment.
  • The court did not strike down the application of the creamy layer concept in the scheduled communities and invalidated the requirement of quantifiable data before making a reservation in promotions for SC and ST.

Way forward

  • Indra sawhney started a new era of reservation in India. But actual work of social upliftment is still incomplete.
  • There are instances where a doctor was beaten because an upper caste patient doesn’t want to get treated by him, or a techie was murdered for marrying an upper caste girl.
  • So, applying creamy layer to SC/ST will not result in achievement of the original objective of reservation, i.e. to uplift the centuries old oppressed communities.
  • Reservation to inadequately represented people along with awareness and education of all will build an egalitarian society in India.

Best answer: Ankita

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