The Supreme Court has clarified the position of law on the interplay of vertical and horizontal reservations.
Reservation for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Other Backward Classes is referred to as vertical reservation. It applies separately for each of the groups specified under the law.
Horizontal reservation refers to the equal opportunity provided to other categories of beneficiaries such as women, veterans, the transgender community, and individuals with disabilities, cutting through the vertical categories.
The horizontal quota is applied separately to each vertical category, and not across the board. For example, if women have 50% horizontal quota, then half of the selected candidates will have to necessarily be women in each vertical quota category.
Saurav Yadav case
Sonam Tomar and Rita Rani had secured 276.5949 and 233.1908 marks respectively. They had applied under the categories of OBC-Female and SC-Female respectively.
The two candidates did not qualify in their categories. However, in the General-Female (unreserved-female) category, the last qualifying candidate had secured 274.8298 marks, a score that was lower than Tomar’s.
The question before the court was that if the underlying criterion for making selections is “merit”, should Tomar be selected under General-Female quota instead of the OBC-Female category for having secured a higher score.
The government’s policy was to restrict and contain reserved category candidates to their categories, even when they had secured higher grades.
The court ruled against the Uttar Pradesh government and said the person would be counted as qualifying without the vertical reservation, and cannot be excluded from the horizontal quota in the general category.
If a person in the SC category secures a higher score than the cut-off for the general category, the person would be counted as having qualified under the general category instead of the SC quota.