Reality Check India

The first amendment

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on June 22, 2006

First a small quiz. 

  1. Who was Champakam Dorairajan and what does this girl have to do with the Indian constitution ?

Answer at the end of this post


Supreme Court of India excellent online resource


I have found a great source of information in the Supreme Court of India website at

Various points and counter points are argued by the hoble judges in such clear language on both sides of the issue. You can also find out how the state actively tries to avoid a scientific study of the quota system – and to what lengths it will go to avoid that study (Indira Sawhney Vs Union of India). In Indira Sawhney, the state of Kerala which refused to identify the creamy layer almost ran into a major confrontation with the supreme court. Read it here

Answer to quiz

Smt Champakam Dorairajan was a girl whose condition forced the Indian Government to introduce the "First Constitutional Amendment" in 1951. Even the Lok Sabha had not been formed at that time. The Lok Sabha would not be formed until 1952.

The story is this:

Champakam Dorairajan was a brahmin girl from the Madras state. In 1951, she could not get admission in a medical college even though she had scored sufficient marks due to a communal GO issued by the government. In 1950 Madras state, the quota system was very different that what it is today. The court states,

With regard to admission of students to the  Engineering and  Medical Colleges of the State, the Province  of  Madras had issued an order (known as the Communal G. O.) that seats should be filled in by the selection committee strictly on the following basis, i.e.,

out of every 14 seats,

  • 6 were  to be allotted to Non-Brahmin (Hindus),
  • 2 to Backward Hindus,
  • 2 to Brahmins,
  • 2 to Harijans.
  • 1 to Anglo-Indians  and  Indian Christians and
  • 1 to Muslims

The above system had been in place for a few years. The communal GO did not mention backwardness in anyway. So it can be safely assumed that most of the seats were filled based on caste basis, and it was the most forward of the non-brahmin castes that filled the big quota (6). The communal GO just distributed seats based on a idea to "cap" particular communities.

So the girl (Champakam) moved the Supreme Court and claimed she had been discriminated ONLY based on her birth (caste), the court agreed and struck down the entire GO. Major agitations broke out in TN – leading to political and social upheaval. India had just been formed, the lok sabha had not even met, and the government was forced to amend the constitution for the first time, due to the quota situation in the Madras state. The amendment added a "clause 4 to Section 15"

Clause 4 of Article 15 reads: Nothing in this Article or in Clause 2 of Article 29 shall prevent the state from making any special provision for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.

See there, that is why the SC/STs are different from OBCs. The constitution only talks about "classes" not "castes".

Side note: In the process of reading some judgements, it seems like the major problem the court has is that it is unconstitutional to discriminate (positive or negative) based ONLY on caste. The state could discriminate (for social justice reasons) on a number of factors (under 15-4) – of which caste is just one part.

The Kerala Case

Nothing is more fascinating than the case of Kerala and the creamy layer removal. This prompted the famous Indra Sawhney case. Still reading it – will blog about it later. Other bloggers on any side of the issue should also read these cases.

You can read Indira Sawhney here :

You can read Champakam Dorairajan here :

16 Responses

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  1. barbarindian said, on June 22, 2006 at 6:28 pm


    This is off-topic but I thought I would bring it to your attention:

    Clearly, our government and politicians hate data. They hate to face cold hard facts staring at them from documents.

  2. Confused said, on June 23, 2006 at 2:58 pm

    Clap, Clap

    Great work.

    My compliments.

  3. Sharan Sharma said, on June 23, 2006 at 8:42 pm

    Excellent piece!
    Thank you.

  4. Barbarindian said, on June 26, 2006 at 3:11 am

    Just read the transcript of Arun Shourie interview with KT. I guess now KT will become a hero of pro-reservationists. The alarming thing is KT moved the discussion towards the very controversial topic of social justice.

  5. realitycheck said, on June 26, 2006 at 5:55 am


    Karan loves to attack extreme positions. He wont let you get out of that into a more centre position during his interview. Once you take that position you must expect all discussions to focus on that extreme position only.

  6. Anonymous said, on June 27, 2006 at 2:24 pm
  7. […] 2) The name should read Champakam Dorairajan not Shenbagam Duraiswamy. For more info read here […]

  8. nudemen said, on June 14, 2007 at 8:52 pm


  9. […] Champakam (First Amendment), Indira Sawhney -I , Kerala (Indira Sawhney II),  Illogical to ask for data ? , Why cant 42% get 27%, If Lakshaweep can have only 1% unreserved, why cant TN have 4-12% unreserved castes ? […]

  10. mini said, on March 11, 2009 at 9:19 am

    i am speechless….
    all i can say is….
    GREAT ARTICLE!!!!!!!!!

  11. […] grand anomaly which incidentally dates to the First Constitutional Amendment , even before the First Lok Sabha convened, will lay this country to waste. Unless, we build an […]

  12. […] Court is whether it can scrutinize this adhoc runaway division of citizens. It started it in the Champakam Dorairajan case by giving the state a long rope with little data overhead. It failed in 2007.  This failure […]

  13. […] ? If that’s the case, why dont we have an outright communal quota. Like the impugned G.O in Champakam Dorairajan vs State of Madras that led to the very first Amendment even before the maiden Lok […]

  14. […] you know? Smt.Champakam Dorairajan, a Brahmin lady from Madras learnt that she could not secure admission in Medical College in 1951 […]

  15. […] all groups (castes/religions) be given a pro-rata allocation ? Remember this was the issue in  Champakam Dorairajan vs Union of India that prompted the first amendment. Stunning we want to go back to the Communal G.O in Madras […]

  16. […] Is giving 10% quota for FC a slow poison for social justice?  Well, as per the Justice Party leaders including Mr EV Ramaswamy himself  – a complete communal quota is the correct model for social justice. Even Prof Suba Veerapandian announced recently that the ideal scheme is “Every community gets it share” .  Their own founders  notified the Madras Communal G.O and eventually lead to the Champakam Dorairajan case and the very 1st constitution amendment. […]

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