The Karnataka government on Thursday said that it will promulgate an Ordinance to hike reservations for Scheduled Caste from 15% to 17%, and Scheduled Tribes from 3% to 7% in the state, PTI reported.

An Ordinance is a temporary law passed by the president or a governor when Parliament or a state Assembly is not in session. Once the ordinance is promulgated, the Assembly will have to approve it within six months, failing which it will cease to be in effect.

The decision to introduce the Ordinance was taken at a meeting of the state Cabinet chaired by Chief Minister Basavraj Bommai. The Cabinet had on October 8 granted formal approval to increase the reservation.

“Following the decision to enhance the SC-ST reservation, we introduced a Bill to this effect before the cabinet, and it was decided to send it to the governor to promulgate an ordinance,” Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister JC Madhuswamy said, according to PTI. “We had earlier felt that executive decision would be enough, but later realised that if it is questioned in court of law, it may lead to issues.”

With the proposed hike, the total reservation in Karnataka will increase to 56%, above the mandated 50% limit of the Supreme Court.

At present, Karnataka provides 15% reservation for Scheduled Castes, 3% for Scheduled Tribes, and 32% for the Other Backward Classes, which adds up to 50%.

On October 8, Bommai had said that decision of the state government will get legal protection if the hiked quota is included under Schedule 9 of the Constitution, according to The Indian Express.

The Ninth Schedule of the Constitution contains a list of central and state laws which cannot be challenged in courts.

“…the Law Department, Law Commission, (and) constitutional experts in consultation with the Advocate General will make a recommendation (to the Central government) and try to implement it,” Bommai had said.

On Thursday, Madhuswamy said that there were only six castes in Karnataka under the category of Scheduled Caste, to which now 103 more have been added, PTI reported.

“The population has enormously raised, and as the Constitution calls for adequate representation we will have to give about 17% reservation for Scheduled Castes,” he said.

The increase in the reservation was recommended by a commission headed by a retired judge of Karnataka High Court Justice HN Nagamohan Das in 2020.

According to The Indian Express, the Bommai government was under pressure from lawmakers of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes community to implement the commission’s report. The decision also comes a year ahead of Assembly elections in the state.