But over a period of time, as the competition for jobs became more intense and the overall pie of government jobs began to shrink – even as the fast growth that Indians had got used to began to taper off – even dominant castes in states such as Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and a few other states began to demand reservations for themselves.
To extend education and job quotas to all these dominant castes, the Supreme Court-mandated cap of 50 per cent reservations would have to be breached. In turn, that would reduce the number of opportunities for general category candidates and strike at the heart of the conception of India as a merit-based society. It was also, potentially, a steep and slippery slope. If the 50 per cent quota is allowed to be breached, there is nothing to stop politicians from expanding reservations to 100 per cent of all opportunities available, at least theoretically.
That, in a nutshell, was the case the five-judge bench of the Supreme Court was adjudicating upon.