A five-judge Constitution Bench is deciding whether State legislation can give preferential treatment to specific castes within the Scheduled Castes (SCs). In particular, it is assessing the constitutionality of Section 4(5) of the Punjab Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes (Reservation in Services) Act, 2006 (hereafter ‘Act’). The provision provides the Balmiki and Mazbhi Sikh castes with ‘first preference’ for Scheduled Caste reservations in public services in Punjab. The respondents contend that this violates the precedent established by the Supreme Court in E.V. Chinnaiah, which established that any ‘sub-classification’ of the Scheduled Castes would violate Article 14 of the Constitution
In 2010, the Punjab and Haryana High Court struck down Section 4(5) of the Act as unconstitutional. The State of Punjab appealed the High Court's judgment and the case is now before a Supreme Court Bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, M.R. Shah and Aniruddha Bose.
In the previous hearing, the Bench issued noticed to the Union of India. In today's brief hearing, Additional Solicitor General Vikramjeet Banerjee sought to clarify the Union's stance in writing via an affidavit. The Bench granted the Union seven days to file its affidavit and adjourned the case.