The decision earlier this year of the Supreme Court in the case relating to reservations for the Other Backward Classes has generated substantial debate. Unfortunately, much of this debate has failed to subject the judgment to rigorous legal analysis. This paper attempts to fill the gap by first proposing a general methodology for a legal reading of a court judgment. It then provides a careful analysis of the AK Thakur judgment and shows that the ratio in the case is a narrow one with no radical departures from the Court’s existing doctrine on reservation law and policy. The paper then assesses the Court’s approach to the problems of identifying beneficiaries and suggests that the Court closely correlate the intrusiveness of affirmative action measures chosen and the moral justifications for the same. It concludes by addressing several policy proposals that aim to restructure affirmative action and suggest alternative frameworks of legal doctrine that will allow the Court to effectively respond to these demands for reform.
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