‘Revisit system of reservation in larger interests of society’

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By Manish Anand

New Delhi, November 7: The Supreme Court of India upheld the 103rd Constitution amendment in a split verdict on Monday, rejecting the challenge to the reservation on the economically backwardness criteria. The Narendra Modi government ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections has unveiled 10 per cent reservation for the economically backward among the general categories.

While the system of reservation in the country has been questioned for its hijacking by the affluent classes on account of the creamy layer, which covers almost 98 per cent of the people, one of the Supreme Court judges called for a revisit to the quota system in the backdrop of 75 years of India’s Independence. “At the end of 75 years of Independence, we need to revisit the system of reservation in the larger interest of the society,” observed Justice Bela Trivedi.

Her remark assumes significance in the backdrop of the issue of reservation having become a touchy issue, and any call for a relook invites political wrath, as seen in a Mohan Bhagwat, the RSS chief, statement ahead of the 2015 Bihar Assembly elections. Yet, the political parties are broadening the scope of reservation without sticking to the previously held Constitutional views that quota is to address the social backwardness of the communities. The 103rd Constitution amendment inserted the economic backwardness in granting reservation, which was challenged by Tamil Nadu-based lawyers. Tamil Nadu, incidentally, has made a mockery of reservation by blanking out the general categories from the scope of admissions in the educational institutions and the government’s jobs, which is now being copied by other states.

Incidentally, Chief Justice of India UU Lalit ruled against the ESW reservation, siding with Justice S Ravindra Bhat. But the majority of three Justices – Dinesh Maheshwari, JB Pardiwala and Bela Trivedi – ruled in favour of the 103rd Constitution amendment. With the judgment, the Supreme Court has rejected the challenges to the EWS quota on the grounds that it breaches the 50 per cent ceiling, excludes others from the scope of quota on economic criteria, and the economic backwardness as ground for affirmative action.

The Supreme Court judgment is likely to accelerate inclusion of other grounds for reservation in educational institutions and government jobs, even while a call to take a relook at the quota system has gained urgency from the top court.

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1 thought on “‘Revisit system of reservation in larger interests of society’

  1. Good coverage on reservation in states, EWS and Supreme Court response.
    – This is quite shameful that we are still not considering reservation policy and its effect from tomorrow’s point of view and what would be left for unreserved in Govt Job and college admissions.

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