From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Indira Sawhney Case
Mains level : 50% quota limit
The Centre has told the Supreme Court that it has no role in the choices made by the Tamil Nadu government with regard to the provision of reservation for specific castes or communities in state government jobs and admissions.
Reservation being an all-time contested issue is a less inevitable topic for mains. However, we can expect some of the thought triggering questions such as – “Reservation is hardly capable of striking a balance between social inclusion and merit. Critically comment. (250 W)”
Essay topic like- “Meritocracy is unrealized without an egalitarian society” are ready to raid your mind.
Issue over 69%
- The Centre was responding to a petition challenging the constitutionality of the Tamil Nadu Backward Classes, SCs and STs Act of 1993, which provides 69% reservation in the State.
- The petitioner contends that the TN has acted “outside its competence” by identifying and classifying socially and educationally backward classes (SEBCs).
- It is too far in excess of the 50% limit on quota laid down by a nine-judge Bench of the Supreme Court in its judgment in the Indira Sawhney Case (1992).
Indira Sawhney Case
In the famous Mandal case (Indra Sawhney Case, 1992), the scope and extent of Article 16(4), which provides for reservation of jobs in favour of backward classes, has been examined thoroughly by the Supreme Court.
- Though the Court has rejected the additional reservation of 10% for poorer sections of higher castes, it upheld the constitutional validity of a 27% reservation for the OBCs with certain conditions.
- The advanced sections among the OBCs (the creamy layer) should be excluded from the list of beneficiaries of reservation.
- No reservation in promotions; reservation should be confined to initial appointments only. Any existing reservation in promotions can continue for five years only (i.e., upto 1997).
- The total reserved quota should not exceed 50% except in some extraordinary situations. This rule should be applied every year.
- The ‘carry forward rule’ in case of unfilled (backlog) vacancies is valid. But it should not violate the 50% rule.
What did the Centre say in the TN case?
- The inclusion or exclusion of any caste/community in the State List of SEBCs is the subject matter of the State government, and the Government of India has no role in the matter.
- It referred to the Constitution (102nd Amendment) Act of 2018, which details the difference in the procedure for inclusion or exclusion of castes and communities in the State List for SEBCs and the Central List.
- The power to identify and specify SEBCs lies with Parliament only with reference to the Central List.
- The State governments may have separate State Lists of SEBCs for providing reservation for recruitment to State services or admissions in State government educational institutions.
- Under the newly-inserted Article 342A of the 102nd Amendment Act of 2018, the President notifies the SEBCs in a State after consultation with the Governor.
- The castes or communities included in such State Lists may differ from those included in the Central List.
A case for TN
The senior advocate appearing for Tamil Nadu said the State’s case should be heard separately. The filed affidavit said:
- India is an amalgam of States with varied population, size, history, culture and social fabric.
- The circumstances and facts prevailing in Tamil Nadu are not the same or similar to those in any other State.
- Tamil Nadu is a pioneer in the implementation of reservation in public employment and education. The policy of reservation has been in practice since 1921 in this State.
- Factual variations contributing to the grant of reservation need to be reckoned with differently for different States while deciding the question on its validity.
- The State argued that its law was protected under the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution from judicial review.
- Section 4 of the 1993 Act provides 30% reservation to the Backward Classes, 20% for the Most Backward Classes and de-notified communities, 18% for the SCs and 1% for the STs.