Is Sub-Classification Permissible Within SC-ST Reservation? Supreme Court To Refer Matter To A Larger Bench: SC Five Judge Bench

The Supreme Court observed that a contract is void if prohibited by a statute under a penalty, even without express declaration that the contract is void

On 27th August 2020, a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court held that the decision of a coordinate bench in E V Chinnaiah v. State of Andhra Pradesh requires to be revisited and referred the matter to the Chief Justice for placing it before an appropriate larger bench. This verdict was delivered in the case of State of Punjab v. Davinder Singh and Ors and connected cases, by a bench comprising of Justices Arun Mishra, Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, M R Shah, and Aniruddha Bose.

This Constitution Bench heard the parties regarding the following issues:

  1. Whether the provisions contained under Section 4(5) of the Punjab Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes (Reservation in Services) Act, 2006 are constitutionally valid?
  2. Whether the State had the legislative competence to enact the provisions contained under Section 4(5) of the Act?
  3. Whether the decision in E.V. Chinnaiah v. State of A.P. & Ors. Reported in (2005) 1 SCC 394 is required to be revised?

Earlier in 2014, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Justices RM Lodha, Kurian Joseph, and RF Nariman were of the view that ‘E.V. Chinniah’ is not in accordance with the 9-Judge Bench judgment of Indira Sawhney v. Union of India and did not take into account the amendment of Article 342A of the Constitution. They had, therefore, referred the matter to the Constitution Bench.

“In a federal structure, the State Government cannot be denied the power to make laws to give preferential treatment to sub-categories within the reservation list”, Justice Arun Mishra observed, while reading out the operative part of the judgment. Finally, the 5 Judge Bench referred the impugned matter to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Justice Bobde, to place the same before another appropriate bench, earlier today.