Vertical and Horizontal Reservations

Vertical and Horizontal Reservations


Recently, the Supreme Court clarified the position of law on the interplay of vertical and horizontal reservations in Saurav Yadav versus the State of Uttar Pradesh 2020 case.

Probable Question:

  1. What do you mean by Horizontal and Vertical      Reservation? Explain in light of recent supreme court judgement.

Types of Reservation:

Vertical reservation:Reservation for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Other Backward Classes is referred to the as vertical reservation. It applies separately for each of the groups specified under the law.

Horizontal reservation:It refers to the equal opportunity provided to other categories of beneficiaries such as women, veterans, the transgender community, and individuals with disabilities, cutting through the vertical categories.

The Application of Reservations:

The horizontal quota is applied separately to each vertical category, and not across the board.

● For example, if women have a 50% horizontal quota, then half of the selected candidates will have to necessarily be women in each vertical quota category — i.e., half of all selected SC candidates will have to be women, half of the unreserved or general category will have to be women, and so on.

● The interlocking of the two types of reservation throws up a host of questions on how certain groups are to be identified. For example, would an SC woman be put in the category of women or SC? Since quotas are fixed in percentages, what percentage of quota would be attributed to each?

The Saurav Yadav versus the State of Uttar Pradesh 2020 case:

● The court ruled against the Uttar Pradesh government, holding that if a person belonging to an intersection of the vertical-horizontal reserved category had secured scores high enough to qualify without the vertical reservation, the person would be counted as qualifying without the vertical reservation, and cannot be excluded from the horizontal quota in the general category.

● A similar question had arisen in the case of vertical reservations in the past, and the law had been settled similarly: If a person in the SC category secures a higher score than the cut-off for the general category, the person would be counted as having qualified under the general category instead of the SC quota.

The Government’s argument:

● The government’s policy was to restrict and contain reserved category candidates to their categories, even when they had secured higher grades. The court said this amounted to ensuring that the general category was ‘reserved’ for upper castes.

The Court’s reasoning:

● If both vertical and horizontal quotas were to be applied together — and consequently, a high-scoring candidate who would otherwise qualify without one of the two reservations is knocked off the list — then the overall selection would have candidates with lower scores.

● On the other hand, if a high-scoring candidate is allowed to drop one category, the court found that the overall selection would reflect more high-scoring candidates. In other words, the “meritorious” candidates would be selected.


Reservation is a form of positive discrimination, created to promote equality among marginalised sections, so as to protect them from social and historical injustice. The ruling will give clarity on the reservation and make it easier for governments to implement and apply reservations. More needy scheduled caste, scheduled tribes and other backward class candidates will be benefited if high scoring candidates are recruited under the general category.

Vertical and Horizontal Reservations
Vertical and Horizontal Reservations
Vertical and Horizontal Reservations
Vertical and Horizontal Reservations