Is The 50% Domicile Reservation in National Law University Delhi Violative of Article 15 (3)?


This article has been written by Kashish Goyal from Mody University of Science and Technology, Rajasthan and has been curated by Yashasvi Kanodia from NMIMS’ Kirit P. Mehta School of Law, Mumbai.

Firstly, the Article might be contravened by this policy. Article 15(3) of the Indian Constitution states that nobody can prevent the State from making special provisions for women and children. Article 15(5) empowers the institution to make reservations on admissions to any private institution whether it is aided by the Government/State or not, except the minorities.

In one of the cases named M.R. Balaji and Ors. Vs. The State of Mysore, the Hon’ble Supreme Court held that such reservation should be reasonable and not exceed 50%.  In another case of Indra Sawhney v. Union of India, which later became a landmark judgment; many essential points were stated:

  • The government held that only a 27% reservation may be allotted for the Backward Classes.
  • The Court also fixed a 50% reservation for others.

The petitioner had completed her graduation from the University of Rajasthan and had wanted to pursue her post-graduation, i.e., LL.M from Delhi. The petitioner stated that the reservation policy is not only a violation of Article 15 (3) but it also against reasonable grounds. The ones who have completed their education from Delhi itself will also be treated differently. This was really far away from intangible differentia.

One of the recent writ petitions named Pia Singh vs. NLUD challenged that National Law University, Delhi which provides about 50% reservation in their prospectus to those who have qualified their examinations from Universities which are situated in Delhi for the following courses of L.L.M and L.L.B. The petition also challenged the 22% reservation for OBC and 10% reservation for EWS in the L.L.M. course without increasing the seats.  According to the petition, it was contented by the petitioner that there has been a high increase in the number of reserved seats which adversely affect the unreserved category.

Guidelines issued by the Authority:

There is an Act called the Central Educational institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act 2006, which defines the criteria of reservation quota which should be provided to every one according to their classification.

Section 5 of the above Act clearly states that any institution, whether private or public in nature, with the approval of appropriate authority, may increase their seats in any faculty or course on the permitted limit, but such number of seats should not be less than the number of seats which are actually filled for the academic session excluding the seats which are reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. According to the following section, institutions are permitted to increase seats by 25% so that the unreserved category does not get affected. The basic motive behind is to ensure that the general category and unreserved category remain unaffected.

The Ministry of Human Resource Development has also notified all the central institutions to follow the 103rd Amendment of the Constitution (which provides for the reservation of jobs in government institutions and also to the private institutions on the admission of students).

According to the National Law University Act 2007, the objective of the Act is to create a national institution of excellence in the field of legal research. However, by providing a 50% reservation it would change the national character of NLU Delhi. Quantum of reservation was unreasonable and excessive.

According to the data, in previous years, seats for the unreserved category amounted to 64 and in the current academic year, it is merely 30. Hence, it was crystal clear that NLUD had violated the guidelines issued by MHRD and had not adhered to the percentage for reservation which is permitted by them.

It is admissible that any state can have reservations on the basis of domicile because it is residents who provide funds to the institution. But in this case, they are providing reservations on the basis of those who have qualified in Delhi based institutions only. It is unfair and unreasonable for those students who hail from other cities or even those who reside in Delhi itself, as the reservation applies to students merely having completed their education in Delhi too. In one of the cases of Sourabh Chowdhary & Ors.  Vs. Union of India & Ors. , the Hon’ble Supreme Court affirmed that reservation should on the basis of domicile or institution through the fixed quota of reservation. In this case, the respondent could increase the limit by 50% but instead of this, the university cut down the seats of unreserved category which is totally beyond the authority.

A statement may be concluded that “the classification which has been done between those who have passed from the Delhi institution or those who have passed from any other institution is irrelevant.” The reservation by the respondent university is too strange as it increases the fixed limit which is permitted by the court. If in case we add up all the reservation, it becomes 80%, which is unfair and inequitable for the unreserved category.

Lastly, it can be concluded that every university should follow the guidelines which are issued for the reservation policy. If they want to increase the seats, they must take the approval of authority before the reservation. The reservation should be reasonable, and should not be discriminated against on the basis of any ground. While giving reservations, the university should have taken the preview of the previous years’ seats. If they want to do so, they can increase the seats with the proper procedure. The Examination Authority plays a vital role in giving admissions to the students. The criteria of reservation on the basis of institution qualifications are unfair and should be done away with.


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