Name of Case: The State of Madras vs Srimathi Champakam Dorairajan 1951 AIR 226, 1951 SCR 525
Composition of the Bench: The Supreme Court of India - Constitution Bench (7 judges)
Name of Judges: Das, Sudhi Ranjan Kania, Hiralal J. (Cj) Fazal Ali, Saiyid Sastri, M. Patanjali Mahajan, Mehr Chand Bose, Vivian Mukherjea, B.K.
Area of Law: Constitutional Law
Brief Facts of the Case:
The main issue in the current dispute is whether the
designation made in the communal G.O. regarding the reservation in educational
institutions is still legitimate. Despite having received enough grades, Smt.
Champakam Dorairajan, a Brahmin woman from the state of Madras, was denied
admittance to the medical school in 1951 despite her qualifications. This was
because of a collective GO issued by the government.
When compared to the current scenario, the quota system in the state of Madras
was radically different. The Madras State government operated four medical
colleges, with 17 seats designated for students from outside the state, 12 seats
allocated at the state's discretion, and the remaining seats allocated among
four diverse groups in the district. For the Admission of the people in the Medical college the Madras government
issued an order named Collective Go which stated that the seat of the college
should be filled by the selection committee solely on the provided basis
6 were to be allotted to Non-Brahmin (Hindus),
to Backward Hindus,
to Anglo-Indians and Indian Christians
She was turned away because there were fewer seats earmarked for members of the
community she belonged to (Brahmin). Champakam Dorairajan won a decision from
the Madras High Court. The Hon. Supreme Court of India is currently hearing the
appeal to decide the case.
The Supreme Court has got the jurisdiction over the matter by way of its
Appellate Jurisdiction. The appeal is made before the Hon'ble Apex Court after
being decided upon by the Madras High Court.
Question of Law:
Regarding India's reservation system, the case raises two significant issues.
Firstly- which should be prioritised: Directive Principles or Fundamental
Second- whether to reach the judgement by applying a literal reading to the
disputed sections or by using another method.
Legal Issues for Determination:
Issue 1- whether the classification mentioned in Communal G.O regarding
reservation in educational institutes of Madras are violative of the fundamental
right guaranteed to the citizens of India by Art. 29 (2) of the Constitution?
Issue 2- Whether the directive principle of state policy can override
the fundamental rights mentioned in part III of the Constitution?
The learned counsel appearing for the State of Madras contended that Art. 46
gives the State the power to promote with special care the educational and
economic interests of the weaker sections of the population, especially of the
Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, and to protect them from social
injustice and all forms of exploitation.
He also said that provisions of Art. 46
supersede the provision of Art. 29. He continued by saying that the provisions
of Art. 29 must be read in conjunction with other articles in the Constitution
(2). Additionally, the Communal G.O. assigning proportionate seats for various
classes is allowed to be maintained by the State under article 46, so it is
legal and does not violate the petitioners' fundamental rights.
The experienced counsel representing the Respondents argued that the Communal
G.O. violates their fundamental rights protected by Articles 13, 16(4), and
29(2). As a result, she pleaded for the issuance of a writ of mandamus or other
suitable prerogative writ prohibiting the State of Madras and all of its
officers and employees from enforcing, observing, maintaining, or following or
requiring the enforcement, observance, maintenance, or
Methodology of Judging the Issues Involved:
The verdict seems to have been given by way of literal interpretation of
provisions like Article 37, 46 and 29(2), 16(2). The Court also emphasized on
harmonious interpretation to show that directive principles cannot override
Fundamental rights and that fundamental rights cannot be abridged.
Opinion of the Court:
The Supreme Court reached a unified conclusion. Hon. Justice Das J. delivered
the aforementioned decision. The court found that the Communal G.O. did not
comply with Article 29's provision (2). Additionally, the fundamental rights
must not be restricted, thus the directive principles must also be in accordance
Reasoning of the court:
The judgement of the court was set forth by Hon'ble Justice Das J. The main
provision of law discussed in this particular case was article 29(2) which talks
about not denying admission on ground of religion, race, caste, language or any
of them. This is the fundamental right which is enjoyed by individuals not as
a member of any particular religion or caste but as a citizen of the country.
The Court completely rejected the contention that "Article 46 can override the
provision of Article 29(2)".
Article 46 comes under directive principles.It
was contemplated that Directive Principles of State Policy has been expressly
made unenforceable by way of Article 37. He observed that the Fundamental
Rights are sacrosanct and can never be abridged by any act or order passed by
legislatives or executives, except to the extent mentioned under Part III of the
constitution. It was set forth that Directive Principles shall run as subsidiary
to the Fundamental rights. This shows that in case of conflict between the two
then fundamental rights shall be placed above or considered superior to the
It was noticed that the petitioner was denied admission
into the educational institution only on the ground of he being a Brahmin and
does not belong to the community having lot of reservations. In view of the apex
court, the Communal G.O. entails classification on the basis of religion& caste
and therefore opposed to the very fundamental provision of the Constitution. If
the discrimination were only on ground of merits then there would be no breach
of rights, but here the Communal G.O. was inconsistent with the very provision
of article 29(2) and so shall be void under Article 13 of the constitution.
The judgement led to the First Amendment of the Constitution. The ratio seems to
have achieved by way of literal interpretation of the provisions in question.
The verdict of Hon'ble Supreme Court set forth that the reservations provided by
the educational institution under Communal G.O.on grounds of religion, caste,
etc is violative of Article 29(2) of the Indian Constitution. Also, the Court
emphasized on interpreting the constitution in harmonious way so that the
Directive Principle shall always conform to and run subsidiary to the
Fundamental Rights and that the state laws do not abridge the fundamental
New Rulings or Principles:
Clause 4 was inserted to Article 15 of the Constitution by this significant
decision. The State shall not be restrained from providing for the advancement
of any socially or educationally disadvantaged class, or for SC and ST under
Article 15 or Article 29. (2). A question about what should be considered
superior, fundamental rights or directive principles has also been resolved by
Present Status of Ruling:
Numerous lawsuits have made reference to the judgement. When state policy's
guiding ideas ran counter to the fundamental rights, it was brought up. This
case has been cited since 1951 to demonstrate the superiority of fundamental
rights and the impossibility of limiting them. This decision is also cited when
the reservation system is in dispute because it established the legal precedent
for prohibiting admissions discrimination.
Aim of the Judgement:
The main aim of the verdict was to enable clarity pertaining to the Reservation
system in India. So that all citizens who deserves being admitted shall never be
denied admission on ground of he/she being the member of a particular community.
Unquestionably, this decision has set the stage for combating unfair
achievements made by educational institutions through reservations for a certain
community or caste. And as a result of the language inserted to Article 15, the
State was permitted to make particular arrangements for the socially and
educationally disadvantaged class. However, because the judgement only applied
to government-funded or supported universities and jobs, no determination was
reached addressing reservation policies in private institutions.
different situation raised the same issue. The Fundamental Right will always
take precedence over all other rights and guiding principles, according to the
most significant lesson this case taught. The ambiguity with regard to the two
was so resolved. Each and every statement in the judgement was very clear and
correct that it got never challenged or overruled, since 1951.
The State of Madras vs Srimathi Champakam Dorairajan 1951 AIR 226, 1951 SCR 525
Parochial Attitude of Judiciary in the Interpretation of the Principles, Shodhganga, 232
Indian Constitution, art. 29, cl. 2. Which reads as "No citizen shall be denied admission into any educational institution maintained by the State or receiving aid out of State funds on grounds only of religion, race, caste, language or any of them".