Suneel Jatley and Ors. v State of Haryana and Ors. – Case Summary

Equivalent citations: 1984 AIR 1534, 1985 SCR (1) 272
Suneel Jatley and Etc.
State of Haryana and Etc.
Date of Judgement: 30/07/1984
Desai, D.A.
Reddy, O.Chinnappa (J)

Facts of the Case

The petitioners questioned the validity and legality of reservation of 25 seats for candidates coming from rural areas for admission to first M.B.B.S./B.D.S. Course for 1982 session in the Medical Faculty of the Third Respondent-Maharishi Dayanand University Rohtak. The University issued a prospectus on June 12, 1982 inviting applications for appearing at an Entrance Test for selecting candidates for admission to MBBS/BDS Course, 1982. Out of a total of 148 seats available for admission, 80 seats were to be filled in according to the merit list drawn-up on the performance at the entrance examination and the rest were reserved for different classes of candidates. The petitioners challenge only the reservation of 25 seats for candidates coming from the rural areas as being violative of Articles 14, 15(4) and 29(2) of the Constitution inasmuch as the classification is arbitrary, unintelligible and unrelated to the objects sought to be achieved and not saved by Article 15(4).


  1. Whether reservation of 25 seats for rural areas for admission to 1982 session in the Medical College attached to the University is constitutionally valid?
  2. Whether the classification between the students educated in urban school and common rural schools is based on any intelligible differentia which has a rational nexus to the objects sought to be achieved?

Contentions Raised

It was alleged that to classify candidates on the basis of their education in a school in rural area and urban area is irrational inasmuch as before seeking admission to the Medical Faculty even the student coming from rural areas and having been educated in common rural school from 1st to 8th standard would have taken further education for a period of 40 years before seeking admission to the medical college.

It was therefore said that earliereducation from 1st to 8th standard either in urban schools or common rural schools both having identical syllabus and examination evaluation prescribed by a common authority is hardly of any relevance while considering the merit for admission to the medical college more so because all students coming either from urban schools or those educated in common rural schools were required to undergo further education for a period of 4 years after the 8th standard in urban schools or schools which can be compared with urban schools.

The petitioners contend that the reservation is not sustainable under Article 15(4) because candidates educated in common rural school cannot as a class be said to be socially and educationally backward and, therefore, the reservation would not satisfy the test prescribed by Article 15(4) of the Constitution. The petitioners pointed out that the syllabus for 1st to 8th standard adopted in common rural schools and urban schools is entirely identical prescribed by the same Government and the qualification of teachers for being appointed in the urban schools or the common rural school is the same and they are transferable from one area to the other area. It was also contended that the majority of the population in the State of Haryana as in whole country is residing in rural areas and the reservation in favour of majority would be void ab initio.

Lastly it was said that the classification apart from being arbitrary and irrational does not satisfy the twin tests of it being based on intelligible differentia and having any nexus to the objects sought to be achieved. The petitioners say that some from amongst respondents 5 to 49 have been admitted against reservation for candidates coming from rural areas and even though the petitioners had obtained higher marks at the entrance examination and were placed higher in the merit list yet they have been denied admission on account of the constitutionally invalid reservation and therefore, their admissions should be struck down and the University may be directed by a mandamus to reconsider the eligibility for admission after ignoring the reservation in favour of students from rural areas.

It was submitted by the respondents that in order to correct the regional imbalance in the matter of admissions to medical collegestudents seeking admission were divided into different classes based on intelligible differentia and that if the object of medicaleducation is to extend medical facilities where it is needed the most, reservation for candidates coming from rural areas would achieve the object and therefore, the State Govt. was perfectly justified in making this reasonable and rational classification.It was also contended by Mr. P.P. Rao on behalf of the University that the Court should not merely confine itself to the headline in the prospectus but read the entire entry specifying reservation especially the conditions of eligibility for the reserved seats. Reading it thus it was said that the reservation was in favour of students not coming from rural areas but in favour of students who were educated in common rural schools.

In addition to this, the respondents also contended that the decision in Pradeep Tandon’s case[1] would not be of any assistance and is distinguishable because that case reservation was in favour of candidates coming from rural, hill and Uttarakhand areas on the ground that people coming from these areas belonged to socially and educationally backward classes while the reservation in the instant case is founded on the lack of facility for education in common rural schools functioning in rural areas and also that in Pradeep Tandon’s case, one of the contentions which found favour with the Court was that the reservation was in favour of a majority which aspect does not arise in the present case.


The petitions succeeded. A writ was issued quashing reservation of 25 seats in favour of candidates coming from rural areas and educated in common Rural School for admission to MBBS Course 1982 at Medical College, Rohtak affiliated to Maharshi Dayanand University. Consequently, the respondents were directed to admit in 1st MBBS Course of the same College commencing from July, 1983, such number of students who secured admission against the reservation for candidates coming from Rural Areas and educated in Common Rural School in 1982, according to the general merit list drawn up in respect of candidates, who sought admission and in the absence of such a list, a waiting list should be drawn up according to merits, for the year 1982. The respondents were directed to work out the admissions as per the direction herein made before May 31, 1983 and give intimation to the students who become eligible for admission. There were no orders as to costs.

Case Comment

It is well-settled that Article 14 forbids class legislation but permits reasonable classification in the matter of legislation. In order to sustain the classification permissible under Article 14, it has to satisfy the twin tests: (1) that the classification is founded on an-intelligible differentia which distinguishes persons or things that are grouped together from others left out of the group and (2) the differentia must have a rational relation to the object sought to be achieved by the impugned provision[2].

The backwardness contemplated by Article 15(4) is both social and educational backwardness of the citizens, the accent being on classes of citizens socially and educationally backward and therefore, socially and educationally backward citizens cannot be equated with areas as a whole socially and educationally backward. Some people in the rural areas may be educationally backward, some may be socially backward and there may be few who are both socially and educationally backward but it cannot be said that all citizens residing in rural areas are socially and educationally backward. Accordingly, the reservation in favour of candidates coming from rural areas was held as constitutionally invalid. This reasoning would apply mutatis mutandis to the facts in the present case because the reservation is in favour of candidates coming from rural areas.


[1] State of UP v. Pradeep Tandon 1975 AIR 563.


Risha Kulshrestha
I am Risha Kulshrestha. I am pursuing my BA LLB. degree from Christ (Deemed to be University), Bengaluru. I am in second year. I really like to research and attend seminars and workshops because they add on to my learning process. I am interested in human rights at present because I haven't studied many law subjects as of now. I like reading books, more specifically fiction. After the completion of my degree I want to opt for teaching as my career. This is because I feel that teaching is one of the few professions which do justice to the society by contributing to its development. Essentially, I believe that if you have used society's resource and have achieved what you wanted, then you should try to give it back to the society which will ensure your holistic development as an individual.