In light of concerns raised regarding the admission of Karnataka students at NLSIU, the University would like to put forth a set of FAQs regarding the matter.
The Kannada version of some of the key FAQs are available here.
Does NLSIU admit Karnataka students?
Yes. Since the first batch in 1988, NLSIU has admitted Karnataka students based on the University’s competitive entrance exams.
Does NLSIU reserve 25% of seats for Karnataka students?
Yes, NLSIU reserves 25% of seats for Karnataka students on a horizontal basis. Since the year 2021, the University voluntarily adopted the 25% compartmentalised horizontal reservation for Karnataka students under the NLSIU Inclusion and Expansion Plan 2021-25. Prior to this, no Karnataka student reservation policy was in place at NLSIU between 1988 and 2020.
How many Karnataka students have been admitted at NLSIU since 2021?
Is the maximum number of Karnataka students restricted to 25% of the total seats at NLSIU?
No, there is no cap on the MAXIMUM number of Karnataka students admitted to NLSIU. The University ensures that AT LEAST 25% of students admitted to our programmes are Karnataka students. Based on their performance in the competitive entrance exam for NLSIU, a higher number of Karnataka students may be admitted at NLSIU in any given year.
What did the NLSIU Executive Council approve at its meeting held on 21st March 2021?
At this meeting, the NLSIU Executive Council adopted the Inclusion and Expansion Plan which provides for 25% compartmentalised horizontal reservation for Karnataka Students. This was subsequently approved in the General Council. The Governing Bodies have not directed NLSIU to exclude Karnataka students from any of the vertical categories.
Is NLSIU following the reservation policy approved by its Governing Bodies?
Yes. NLSIU has strictly complied with the reservation policy adopted by the Executive Council and approved in the General Council under the name of the “Inclusion and Expansion Plan 2021-25”.
Has NLSIU publicly disclosed the criteria for Karnataka Student reservations?
Yes, the University has publicly disclosed the criteria for Karnataka Students reservations in the admission notifications in 2021, 2022 and 2023. The results of the CLAT Examination are also published publicly. The 25% horizontal reservation policy for Karnataka students has been carried out in the academic years 2021 and 2022 as well.
Will the number of Karnataka students expand at NLSIU in the years ahead?
Yes, the number of Karnataka students will further increase in the years ahead. From Academic Year 2024-25, 135 Karnataka students will be admitted per year to NLSIU, in keeping with an increase to overall student intake. By Academic Year 2026-27, under the University’s Inclusion and Expansion Plan, we aim to ensure that the MINIMUM number of Karnataka students studying law programmes at the University will increase to around 500 students.
What is the National Law School of India (Amendment) Act, 2020?
On April 27, 2020 the Government of Karnataka enacted the National Law School of India (Amendment) Act, 2020 that amended the National Law School of India Act, 1986. The Statement of Objects and Reasons seeks to “provide for 25% of seats to Karnataka Students in National Law School of India, University Bangalore.”
This Amendment Act inserted a new section 4(3) which states as follows:
(3) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act and the regulations made thereunder, the school shall reserve horizontally twenty five percent of seats for students of Karnataka.
The section defines “student of Karnataka” as a student who has studied in any one of the recognized educational institutions in the State for a period of not less than ten years preceding the qualifying examination.
Today, the National Law School (Amendment) Act, 2020 is not the applicable law on the subject.
Is the NLSI (Amendment) Act, 2020 applicable today?
No. The Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka in its decision dated 29th September 2020 in Master Balachandar Krishnan v. State of Karnataka and others (Writ Petition Nos. 8788, 8951 and 9145 of 2020) struck down the validity of the National Law School (Amendment) Act, 2020. The Hon’ble Supreme Court is hearing an appeal preferred by the Government of Karnataka against the decision of the Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka. No orders have been passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the appeal as yet.
As of today, the National Law School of India (Amendment) Act, 2020 is not the applicable law on the subject matter of reservations for Karnataka students at NLSIU.
Has the implementation of NLSIU’s reservation policy for Karnataka students been legally challenged?
No. NLSIU started implementing the reservation policy under the Inclusion and Expansion Plan in 2021, and till date this has not been challenged on ground of any infirmity. Nor have any concerns been expressed to the University by any other stakeholder. The same reservation policy including the 25% horizontal reservation for Karnataka students has been applied to all academic years since 2021.
Is the reservation for Karnataka students at NLSIU horizontal or vertical reservation?
NLSIU follows 25% compartmentalized horizontal reservation for Karnataka Students. On April 17, 2021, the Governing Bodies of NLSIU adopted the “NLSIU Inclusion and Expansion Plan 2021-2025”. Under this Plan, NLSIU voluntarily adopted a 25% compartmentalised horizontal reservation for Karnataka Students from the Academic Year 2021-22 onwards.
Is vertical reservation compulsory under the Karnataka State law?
No, the National Law School of India (Amendment) Act, 2020 refers only to horizontal reservation and does not mandate vertical reservation.
Is vertical reservation compulsory under NLSIU’s Governing Bodies’ resolution?
No, the resolution passed by NLSIU’s Executive Council and General Council does not require vertical reservation. The resolution approves the NLSIU Inclusion and Expansion Plan, which provides for 25% compartmentalised horizontal reservation for Karnataka Students.
What is compartmentalised horizontal reservation?
Horizontal compartmentalised reservation ensures a minimum of 25% of Karnataka students are admitted in every vertical category of General, SC, ST, OBC, and EWS students in each programme of study. Horizontal reservations are ‘interlocking’ reservations that recognise that a student may have overlapping identities, and a compartmentalised reservation policy would accommodate all such eligible candidates equitably.
Has NLSIU followed the applicable Indian law while implementing Karnataka student reservations?
Yes. Students are allocated seats at NLSIU in accordance with the decisions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court explaining the correct manner of implementation of horizontal reservations and as per the reservations approved by the University’s Governing Bodies under the Inclusion and Expansion Plan 2023.
What are horizontal reservations? Are they different from “vertical reservations”?
The NLSIU Inclusion and Expansion Plan 2021-25 and the National Law School of India (Amendment) Act, 2020 both provide for “horizontal” reservations of 25% for Karnataka students at NLSIU.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India has in several cases elaborated upon the nature of horizontal reservations, distinguished them from vertical reservations and explained the manner in which horizontal reservations should be implemented.
Click on the accordion below to read more on Horizontal v. Vertical Reservation:
In the 1992 decision in Indra Sawhney and Others vs. Union of India and others, the Hon’ble Court clarified: “All reservations are not of the same nature. There are two types of reservations, which may, for the sake of convenience, be referred to as ‘vertical reservations’ and ‘horizontal reservations’. The reservations in favour of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other backward classes [under Article 16(4)] may be called vertical reservations whereas reservations in favour of physically handicapped [under clause (1) of Article 16] can be referred to as horizontal reservations. Horizontal reservations cut across the vertical reservations — what is called interlocking reservations. To be more precise, suppose 3% of the vacancies are reserved in favour of physically handicapped persons; this would be a reservation relatable to clause (1) of Article 16. The persons selected against this quota will be placed in the appropriate category; if he belongs to SC category he will be placed in that quota by making necessary adjustments; similarly, if he belongs to open competition (OC) category, he will be placed in that category by making necessary adjustments.” (para 812, emphasis added)
In 2007 in Rajesh Kumar Daria etc. vs. Rajasthan Public Service Commission and others, the Hon’ble Court explained the difference between the nature of vertical reservation and horizontal reservation: “Social reservations in favour of SC, ST and OBC under Article 16(4) are “vertical reservations”. Special reservations in favour of physically handicapped, women, etc., under Articles 16(1) or 15(3) are “horizontal reservations”. Where a vertical reservation is made in favour of a Backward Class under Article 16(4), the candidates belonging to such Backward Class, may compete for nonreserved posts and if they are appointed to the nonreserved posts on their own merit, their number will not be counted against the quota reserved for respective Backward Class. […] BUT THE AFORESAID PRINCIPLE APPLICABLE TO VERTICAL (SOCIAL) RESERVATIONS WILL NOT APPLY TO HORIZONTAL (SPECIAL) RESERVATIONS. Where a special reservation for women is provided within the social reservation for Scheduled Castes, the proper procedure is first to fill up the quota for Scheduled Castes in order of merit and then find out the number of candidates among them who belong to the special reservation group of “Scheduled Caste women”. If the number of women in such list is equal to or more than the number of special reservation quota, then there is no need for further selection towards the special reservation quota. Only if there is any shortfall, the requisite number of Scheduled Caste women shall have to be taken by deleting the corresponding number of candidates from the bottom of the list relating to Scheduled Castes. TO THIS EXTENT, HORIZONTAL (SPECIAL) RESERVATION DIFFERS FROM VERTICAL (SOCIAL) RESERVATION.” (paras 8 and 9, emphasis added)
The most recent comprehensive decision in this regard was given in December 2020 in Saurav Yadav and Ors v. State of Uttar Pradesh and Others where the Hon’ble Court clarified as follows: “(a) At the stage of vertical reservation, the reserved category candidates selected in Open/General category are not to be counted while filling up seats earmarked for the corresponding reserved categories. (b) But the same principle of not counting the concerned selected candidates is NOT TO APPLY FOR HORIZONTAL RESERVATION.” (para 29, emphasis added).
How does NLSIU ensure that each vertical category i.e. SC, ST, OBC, EWS, General, each admits a minimum of 25% of Karnataka students?
The horizontal compartmentalized reservation adopted by the University’s Governing Bodies under the NLSIU Inclusion and Expansion Plan ensures that Karnataka Students are equally represented in each vertical category, i.e. SC, ST, OBC, EWS, General. This compartmentalised approach also ensures that no eligible Karnataka Student is disadvantaged on account of the vertical category that they belong to.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court in its 1995 decision in Anil Kumar Gupta and others v. State of U.P. and others stated that it would be advisable, in future, to specify that horizontal reservations are compartmentalised. The Court held, “We are of the opinion that in the interest of avoiding any complications and intractable problems, it would be better that in future the horizontal reservations are compartmentalised in the sense explained above. In other words, the notification inviting applications should itself state not only the percentage of horizontal reservation(s) but should also specify the number of seats reserved for them in each of the social reservation categories, viz., ST, SC, OBC and OC. If this is not done there is always a possibility of one or the other vertical reservation category suffering prejudice…” (para 17, emphasis added)
Accordingly, the Governing Bodies of NLSIU have adopted the same approach envisaged by the Hon’ble Supreme Court.
From the above, it is clear that NLSIU has implemented its compartmentalised horizontal reservations for Karnataka Students since 2021 in accordance with the law as laid down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India.
It is useful to remind ourselves of Justice Bhat’s concurring judgment in the Saurav Yadav case, where he opined, “I would conclude by saying that reservations, both vertical and horizontal, are method of ensuring representation in public services. These are not to be seen as rigid “slots”, where a candidate’s merit, which otherwise entitles her to be shown in the open general category, is foreclosed, as the consequence would be, if the state’s argument is accepted. Doing so, would result in a communal reservation, where each social category is confined within the extent of their reservation, thus negating merit. The open category is open to all, and the only condition for a candidate to be shown in it is merit, regardless of whether reservation benefit of either type is available to her or him.” (para 15)