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Domicile quota in NLSIU: Justice Lalit recuses himself from hearing

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Supreme Court judge Justice U.U. Lalit on Wednesday recused himself from hearing a plea filed by the Karnataka government challenging the Karnataka High Court’s decision to quash the 25 percent domicile reservation in the National Law School of India University (NLSIU).

“I have represented one of the members of the Governing Council. List this matter before any other Bench,” Justice Lalit informed the counsels present and would not be able to hear the appeal. Therefore, the Court directed that the appeal be listed before another Bench.

On September 29, 2020 , a Bench of Justice B.V. Nagarathna and Justice Ravi V. Hosmani of the Karnataka High Court quashed the domicile reservation on the ground that it is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution.

“The amendment is ultra vires to the act. The State government has no stake and has no direct say in the functioning of the law school. It is an autonomous institute and not aided by the state government,”

the High Court had held.

The High Court ordered that the State government does not have the power to enact the Amendment Act that brought in 25 percent domicile reservation for admissions to NLSIU.

The Bench rejected the argument of the State Government that the object of reservation was to retain talent in Karnataka. It said, “Karnataka Students aspiration cannot be said to be in Karnataka alone when opportunities are available overseas and India.”

The Karnataka government moved the Supreme Court in December 2020 challenging the High Court judgment on the ground that the State Legislature has the necessary legislative competence to pass the Amendment Act.

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Earlier, the Karnataka Assembly passed the National Law School Of India (Amendment) Act, 2020, which received the Karnataka Governor’s assent on April 27. As per this amendment, NLSIU should reserve horizontally 25 percent of seats for ‘students of Karnataka’.

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