Court– Supreme Court Of India

Bench– M. Kania, M Venkatachaliah, S R Pandian, T Ahmadi, K singh, P Sawant, R Sahai, T.K. Thommen and B J Reddy.

Appelant– Indra Sawhney

Respondent– Union of India and others


On January 1, 1979, the Janta Party Government led by Prime Minister Shri Morarji Desai set up the socially and educationally backward classes (SEBC) headed by Shri B.P. Mandal. This commission was appointed under Article 340 of the constitution of India. The Mandal commission submitted its report in December 1980. In this report, the commission identified about 3743 castes as socially and educationally backward classes and recommended for reservation of 27% in Government Jobs. At that time the Janta Party got dissolved and congress came into power. They did not implement the recommendations until 1989. In 1989, the Janta Party again came into power and decided to implement the long-pending Mandal Commission. But there were violent protests throughout the country for three months resulting in damage to persons and property. So a writ petition was filed in October 1990 challenging the legitimacy of the office memoranda. Later the Janta party again collapsed and Narasinha Rao assumed office and he introduced economic criteria by providing importance to the poorer sections of social and educationally backward classes from that 27% and also inserted 10% reservations to the educationally backward classes of the higher caste people. The five-judge bench referred to the matter of the nine-judge bench who issued a notice to the government to show cause the criteria upon which the government has proposed to make 27% reservations for them.


  • Whether Article 16(4) is an exception of Article 16(1) or not?
  • Whether the classification made under the backward classes and most backward class is valid or not?
  • Whether the classification made is based on economy or caste?
  • Whether in Article 16(4) Backward classes are similar to socially and educationally backward classes in Article 15(4) or not?


It was argued by the petitioners that the recommendations made by the Mandal Commission are indirectly provoking the evil idea of the Caste System which is nothing but considered as against the idea of secularism. Hence, the Oms provided on the strength of the Report which is completely based on the caste criterion and infringement of Article 16(2).

It was also argued that the present Report is based on the 1931 census and can never serve as a correct basis for identifying the ‘backward class’, they insisted on the formation of a fresh Commission under Article 340(1) of the Constitution to make a fresh wide survey throughout the country. They also said that if the recommendations of the Commission are implemented, it would result in the sub-standard replacing the standard and the reins of power passing from meritocracy to mediocrity.

The petitioners emphasized the ‘Equal protection’ clause which prohibits the State from making unreasonable discrimination in providing preferences and facilities for any section of its people. They also emphasized the effect of such recommendations on the meritorious candidates appearing for public employment, they said it would demoralize such candidates.


The Respondents argued that if the above argument is accepted then it will negate the just claim of the SEBCs to avail the benefit of Articles 16(4) which is a fundamental right. They also argued that the petitioner’s argument regarding this report is based on the 1931 census is false and baseless because a thorough study of the report suggests that the 1931 census does not have any connection with the identification of OBCs. They further said that the classes have been identified based on the countrywide socio-educational field survey and the census report of 1961 particularly for the identification of aboriginal, hill, indigenous, primitive, and forest tribes.

It was also argued about the reference of the 1931 census. They said that this position is made clear by the Commission itself in Chapter XII of its Report. However Systematic caste-wise bifurcation of the population was introduced by the Registrar General of India in 1881 and discontinued in 1931. They further said that the commission only referred to the 1931 census report to gain an idea of community-wise population figures from the census records of 1931 and, then grouped them into broad caste clusters and religious groups.

The Respondents emphasized that the Report wanted to reserve 52% of all the posts in the Central Government for OBCs as per their ratio in the population. However, it is recommended reservation of 27% in deference to legal limitations. Still, the population of OBCs is near twice the figure.

The Respondents also pointed out the Petitioner’s argument regarding sub-standards replacing standards. They termed this argument baseless and based upon false assumptions because the very object of Article 16(4) is to ensure equality of opportunity in matters of public employment and give adequate representation to the left outclass of the society.


The 9 Judge Bench of the Supreme Court of India conveyed the landmark judgment on the issue of reservation to the OBCs. The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India had altogether inspected each conceivable inquiry. The 6:3 ratio decided the following-

Backward class civilians as referenced in Article 16(4) can be recognized based on the caste system and not just on an economical basis. Art 16(4) isn’t an exemption of art16(1) of the Indian Constitution. It just cuts out the classification of society. Reservation can be made under article 16(1) for any part other than those referenced in article 16(4). Backward classes referenced in article 16(4) were not as socially and educationally deprived as referenced in article 15(4). Article 16(4) grants an order of in deprived classes into in backward and all the more in deprived classes. Those who have a place in the Creamy layer should be not be included in the deprived classes and are not qualified for benefits provided for the deprived classes. The Reservation of the classes of society will not surpass half. Moreover, there will be no reservation for promotions.  The process for reservation can be made by Executive Order. There will be a legal body to take care of complaints and concerns.

A majority held that there is no compelling reason to state any opinion on the accuracy or adequacy of the activity done by the Mandal Commission.

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.

Do follow me on FacebookTwitter  Youtube and Instagram.

The copyright of this Article belongs exclusively to Ms. Aishwarya Sandeep. Reproduction of the same, without permission will amount to Copyright Infringement. Appropriate Legal Action under the Indian Laws will be taken.

If you would also like to contribute to my website, then do share your articles or poems at

We also have a Facebook Group Restarter Moms for Mothers or Women who would like to rejoin their careers post a career break or women who are enterpreneurs.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Create a website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: