Ahmedabad: The Gujarat high court Thursday quashed a state government ordinance that granted 10% quota for economically backward classes (EBC) in government jobs and colleges, calling it “unconstitutional" and “illegal".

The decision by a division bench of chief justice R. Subhash Reddy and justice V.M. Pancholi, comes at a time when Anandiben Patel has resigned as chief minister and the BJP is looking to replace her with another ‘Patel’ candidate. The state is currently roiled by protests from the Dalit community, after four of its members were thrashed on charges of skinning of a dead cow.

Reservations in India are currently made for other backward classes (OBC), scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. The Gujarat government decision was seen to placate the powerful and influential Patel or Patidar community, which launched violent protests last year seeking quota benefits under the OBC category.

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A number of petitions were filed in the high court against the ordinance, which said the 10% provision is against the limit of 50% reservation.

The government had said that Gujarat had reached 49.5% reservation for scheduled castes and tribes and OBCs and this would remain untouched. The provision of 10% quota was a classification of EWS and it should not be treated as reservation prescribed under the Constitution, it had said.

One of the key criteria for EBC classification was that people who earn less than 6 lakh a year are eligible for quota benefits if they are in the unreserved or general category.

The agitating Patel community had called the move a “lollipop" offered by the government to misguide the community.

While a little less than 5% people are estimated to pay income tax, a huge section of the society would fall under this criteria that was proposed by the state.