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Ashok Kumar Thakur v. Union of India (2008)

Case Summary


The case of Ashok Kumar Thakur v. Union of India (2008) is a landmark legal proceeding that deals with the issue of reservations in educational institutions in India. Ashok Kumar Thakur, along with other petitioners, challenged the constitutional validity of the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act, 2006, which sought to provide reservations for Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), and Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in educational institutions funded by the central government.


In its judgment delivered in 2008, the Supreme Court of India upheld the constitutional validity of the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act, 2006. The court ruled that reservations for SCs, STs, and OBCs in educational institutions were constitutionally permissible under Articles 15(4) and 15(5) of the Indian Constitution, which allow for affirmative action to promote social justice and equality. However, the court imposed certain restrictions, including a cap of 50% on the total reservation and the exclusion of the "creamy layer" among OBCs from reservation benefits. The judgment affirmed the state's obligation to address historical discrimination and social inequalities through affirmative action while ensuring that merit-based admissions criteria are not compromised.


The judgment in Ashok Kumar Thakur v. Union of India had significant implications for educational policy and affirmative action in India. It reaffirmed the constitutional validity of reservations as a means to promote social justice and equality in education, particularly for historically marginalized communities. The decision provided clarity on the scope and limitations of reservations in educational institutions, balancing the principles of meritocracy and inclusivity. Additionally, the judgment stimulated discussions on the effectiveness of affirmative action policies and the need for holistic approaches to address socio-economic disparities in access to education.

List of Linked Cases:

Indra Sawhney v. Union of India (1992)

M. Nagaraj v. Union of India (2006)

P.A. Inamdar v. State of Maharashtra (2005)

T.M.A. Pai Foundation v. State of Karnataka (2002)

Ashoka Kumar Thakur v. State of Bihar (1995)

Kumari Madhuri Patil v. Additional Commissioner, Tribal Development (2014)