The Orissa High Court today asked the state government to restrict the quantum of reservation for SC, ST and OBC or Special Categories in employment and education to 50 per cent.

Quashing the Socially and Economically Backward Classes (SEBC) Act of 2008, which was notified by the Odisha government in February, 2009 for a 27-per cent reservation for the OBC category, a division bench of the high court said the quantum of reservation should not exceed 50 per cent.

The ruling assumes significance since the state government, through the SEBC Act, had provided a 65.75-per cent reservation, including 16.25 for the SC category and 22.50 per cent for the ST category in both employment and education.

The impugned Act was earlier quashed by the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) in December, 2013 while disposing of a batch of petitions filed by some general category candidates, who were aspirants for the posts of assistant section officers (ASOs).

The state government had, however, challenged the SAT ruling in the high court, justifying the reservation quantum on the basis of the Justice Ram Nandan Prasad Committee report.

The high court, however, observed that the said report was already quashed by a court of law.

Upholding the SAT ruling, the high court said the tribunal, after taking note of the observations of the apex court in the case of Indra Sawhney and M Nagraj and other authoritative pronouncements, came to the conclusion that the decision of the state government was not in accordance with law, and accordingly, struck down the Act of 2008 and also directed the state to modify the notification.

In view of this, the division bench of Justices Kumari Sanju Panda and S N Prasad, in their judgment delivered last month (a copy of which was made available today), had said it would not interfere with the December, 2013 order of the tribunal.