Hard for elected govt to have “political will” to meet with challenges of reservation: SC

NEW DELHI: It is very hard for an elected government to have the “political will” to meet the challenges arising out of the reservation scenario wherein neither the lists of those entitled have been reviewed nor the quota provisions have come to an end, the Supreme Court has observed.

The apex court noted that the government is required to revise the lists for providing quota so that benefits trickle down to the needy.

It said reservations are provided due to discrimination and disadvantages suffered by the backward classes, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes for “sharing the state power”.

“It was envisaged that social disparities, economic and backwardness should be wiped out within a period of 10 years, but gradually, amendments have been made, and there is no review of the lists nor the provisions of the reservation have come to an end,” said a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra.

“Instead, there is a demand to increase them and to provide reservations within the reservation. It is very hard for any elected government to have the political will to meet with the challenges arising out of the aforesaid scenario,” said the bench, also comprising Justices Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, M R Shah and Aniruddha Bose.

The top court observed this in its 152-page verdict by which it quashed the January 2000 order of the erstwhile state of Andhra Pradesh, which had provided 100 per cent reservation to the Scheduled Tribe candidates for post of teachers in schools in the scheduled areas.

The bench said that reservation provided to Scheduled Tribes and constitution of scheduled areas is for the reason that systems concerning way of life are different as they were in “isolation” and “differed in various aspects from common civilisation” such as delivery of justice, culture and way of life.

“The formal education, by and large, failed to reach them, and they remained a disadvantaged class, as such required a helping hand to uplift them and to make them contribute to the national development and not to remain part of the primitive culture,” it said.

“The purpose of the constitutional provisions is not to keep them in isolation but to make them part of the mainstream. They are not supposed to be seen as a human zoo and source of enjoyment of primitive culture and for dance performances,” it said.

The bench further said that social, economic upliftment and education are necessary for the tribals to make them equal.

Referring to the 1992 Indra Sawhney judgement, which is popularly called the Mandal Commission verdict, the apex court noted it was held that the State Lists adopted to provide reservations are not meant to be sacrosanct and unalterable.

“Now there is a cry within the reserved classes. By now, there are affluent and socially and economically advanced classes within Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. There is voice by deprived persons of social upliftment of some of the Scheduled Castes/Tribes, but they still do not permit benefits to trickle down to the needy,” it said.

“Thus, there is a struggle within, as to worthiness for entitlement within reserved classes of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes and other backward classes,” the bench said.

It agreed with the submissions that the government is required to revise the lists and said it can be done presently without disturbing the percentage of reservation so that benefits trickle down to the needy and are not usurped by those classes who have come up after obtaining the benefits for the last 70 years or after their inclusion in the list.

Dealing with the January 2000 order of the erstwhile state of Andhra Pradesh, the bench said it was “arbitrary” and “not permissible” under the Constitution.

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