Minority Issues – Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

Aug, 08, 2018

[op-ed snap] Commissions Of Inaction

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of these vulnerable sections

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Constitutional and statutory commissions in India and their functioning


Context

Various commissions in India

  1. Recently, the government has conferred constitutional status on the National Backward Classes Commission
  2. In India, there are national commissions aplenty, all supposed to be parastatal watchdogs to oversee the implementation of human rights and civil liberties
  3. Today there are at least eight such quasi-autonomous bodies
  4. The exercise began in January 1978 with the establishment of a central Minorities Commission, followed by a joint Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Commission
  5. The Minorities Commission was eventually rechristened as the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) and placed under an Act of Parliament
  6. In 2003, the SC/ST Commission was split into two bodies, both enjoying constitutional status
  7. Other such commisions are: National Commission for Women, backward classes, safai karmcharis, and National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)

Working of these commissions

  1. The composition and appointment mechanism for various national commissions widely differ
  2. The NHRC must be headed by a former Chief Justice of India and have two members each from amongst judges and human rights experts — all to be appointed by a high-level statutory committee
  3. On the contrary, the NCM and NCW chairs and members are to be appointed by the government in its unrestricted discretion

Role of commissions in protecting rights

  1. Under the noses of these supposedly autonomous national bodies, the situation of citizens’ human rights and civil liberties has been moving from bad to worse
  2. All these white elephants — each maintained with an exorbitant budget — are a drain on the state exchequer and ultimately an unwarranted burden on taxpayers
Aug, 08, 2018

LS passes SC/ST amendment Bill

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of these vulnerable sections

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989

Mains level: Misuse of various laws made for the protection of vulnerable sections of society


News

Context

  1. The Lok Sabha passed the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, 2018, to bypass the recent ruling of the Supreme Court laying down procedures for arrests under the Act.
  2. The Bill will now go to the Upper House.

Bypassing Supreme Court

  1. The Supreme Court had in March introduced protective provisions in the SC/ST (PoA) Act, 1989, to permit anticipatory bail —despite a section of the Act denying it — and laying down a preliminary enquiry by police before any action is taken.
  2. It had also laid down that the permission of the appointing authority would be required to arrest a public servant and that of an SSP for the arrest of a person who is not a public servant.

Provisions of the bill

  1. The Bill inserts section 18A (1) (a) in the 1989 Act, that says a preliminary enquiry shall not be required for registration of an FIR against any person.
  2. The Bill also inserts Section 18A (1) (b), which says the investigating officer shall not require approval for the arrest, if necessary, of any person against whom an accusation of having committed an offence under this Act has been made
  3. The Bill’s Statement of Objects and Reasons says that under the CrPC, the decision to arrest a person is taken by the investigating officer and there was no requirement for approval.

No anticipatory Bail

  1. The Bill also goes back to the original SC/ST (PoA) Bill, doing away with the provision of anticipatory bail the Supreme Court ruling had permitted.
  2. The provision of section 438 of the Code shall not apply to a case under this Act, notwithstanding any judgment or order or direction of any Court, says section 18A (2) of the Bill.
  3. Section 438 of the CrPC deals with direction for grant of bail to a person apprehending arrest.
Aug, 04, 2018

[op-ed snap]Checking the new abnormal

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Social Issues | Salient features of Indian Society

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: Rise in lynching incidents across India and need for a strong anti-lynching law.


News

Moving over and above anti-lynching law

  1. Concerned by the increasing number of cases of lynching, the Supreme Court observed highlighted the responsibility of the States to prevent untoward incidents and to prevent crime.
  2. As the court noted that when any core group with some kind of idea take the law into their own hands, it ushers in anarchy, chaos, disorder and, eventually, there is an emergence of a violent society.

Maximum by the Courts: Preventive Guidelines

  1. Towards this goal, in Tehseen S. Poonawalla v. Union of India (July 17, 2018), the court directed that certain guidelines be implemented.
  2. The preventive guidelines require every State to designate a senior police officer, not below the rank of Superintendent of Police, as the Nodal Officer in each district.
  3. This officer will constitute a special task force to collect intelligence on persons likely to commit such crimes or who are involved in spreading hate speech, provocative statements and fake news.
  4. Nodal Officers have been directed to take steps to prohibit instances of dissemination of offensive material through different social media platforms or any other means.
  5. Additionally, both the Central and State governments have been directed to broadcast public notifications on radio, television and other media platforms informing the public of the consequences of taking the law into their hands.

Bigger Role for Nodal Officer

  1. In case of an incident of lynching or mob violence, the jurisdictional police station shall immediately lodge a first information report (FIR).
  2. The Station House Officer, in whose police station such an FIR is registered, shall intimate the Nodal Officer whose duty it will be to ensure that the victim’s family members are not further harassed.
  3. Nodal Officers should be made duty-bound to ensure that investigation and prosecution of such cases is strictly carried out, the charge sheet filed within the prescribed time period, and the trial concluded through fast-track courts within six months.

Learning from US example

  1. In the course of arguments, reference was made to the US where lynching was, at one point, rampant, and several American judgments were cited to emphasise that every citizen must abide by the law.
  2. This may be an oversimplification, for in the case of the US it took almost a hundred years between the Civil War (1861-1865) and the Civil Rights Movement (1954-1968) for the practice of mob violence to be wiped out.
  3. Eventually, in 2005, the U.S. Senate formally apologised for not passing an anti-lynching law when it was most needed.

Way Forward

  1. In case of lynching, it is not just the attackers who must be brought to justice; the role of the police must reformed.
  2. We need more than just laws to deal with the deep-rooted hate which appears to have set in below the surface, and is corroding our moral fibre.
  3. Most cases of lynching have the appearance of premeditated acts of violence.
  4. Deep-seated insecurities are being stoked, especially among young people frustrated by the lack of employment opportunities, to spread a fundamentalist agenda.
  5. As a nation, India cannot wait that long. The executive must immediately implement the directions of the Supreme Court.
Aug, 04, 2018

Centre pushes for quota in promotion for SCs/STs

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Indian Constitution | Significant provisions and basic structure

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of all the Judgments mentioned, Various Amendments related to the Issues

Mains level: Issue of Reservations of SCs/STs in Promotions


News

Govt. pushes for re-examining Nagaraj Judgment

  1. The Government said it wanted a total of 22.5% (15% for SC+7.5% for ST) posts reserved for promotion for SC/ST in public employment.
  2. It began its push for providing “accelerated promotion with consequential seniority” for Scheduled Castes/ Scheduled Tribes (SC/ST) members in public employment.
  3. It wants another five-judge Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra to refer the 2006 verdict to a larger Bench for a re-examination.
  4. It said that the 2006 verdict had created an “impossible situation” for providing accelerated promotions with consequential seniority for SC/ST communities in government services.

2006 Nagaraj Ruling

  1. The 2006 Nagaraj judgment was pronounced by a five-judge Constitution Bench.
  2. A/c to this the government cannot introduce a quota in promotion for its SC/ST employees unless they prove that the particular Dalit community is backward, inadequately represented and such a reservation in promotion would not affect the overall efficiency of public administration.
  3. The opinion of the government should also be based on quantifiable data.
  4. It is made clear that even if the state has compelling reasons, the state will have to see that its reservation provision does not lead to excessiveness so as to breach the ceiling limit of 50% or obliterate the creamy layer or extend reservation indefinitely.

Presumed backwardness

  1. The SC/ST communities have faced centuries of deprivation at the hands of society. They have been deprived of access to temples, schools and the basic facilities of life argued the AGI.
  2. But CJI said the three criteria backwardness, inadequacy and administrative efficiency were “compelling reasons” so that reservation by government was not excessive.
  3. The three qualifiers were meant to prevent reservation from making an inroad into the right of equal opportunity in public employment.
  4. The Nagaraj judgment was meant to find a stable equilibrium between justice to the backwards, equity for the forwards and efficiency for the entire system.
  5. In fact, the Nagaraj judgment said the three qualifiers were meant to prevent “reverse discrimination” by State.

Creamy Layer Row

  1. In November 2017, a two-judge Supreme Court Bench led by Justice Kurian Joseph, had re-opened the issues of creamy layer and quota in promotions for SC/ST by referring them to a Constitution Bench.
  2. It was based on a series of questions of law, including clarity on:
  • Article 16 (4), which deals with the State’s powers for providing for appointments or posts for “any backward class of citizens”;
  • On Article 16 (4A), which arms the state with power to make provisions for quota in promotion with consequential seniority to SC/ST communities; and finally
  • Article 16 (4B), which deals with unfilled vacancies of a year reserved for SC/ST kept from being filled up.
Aug, 03, 2018

Explained: SC/ST (Amendment) Act, 2018

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of these vulnerable sections

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, National Crime Records Bureau,

Mains level: Misuse of various laws made for the protection of vulnerable sections of society


News

Context

  1. The Union Cabinet approved an amendment to The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act to undo certain provisions of the law by the Supreme Court.
  2. The Act would be amended to remove any possibility of interpretation by a court of law.

Background

  1. The SC/ST Act was originally passed in 1955 by the Parliament as the Untouchability (Offences) Act.
  2. It was renamed as the Protection of Civil Rights (PCR) Act in 1976 but the law was considered ineffective in the 1980s and replaced with the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act in 1989.
  3. In 2015, more offences were brought under its ambit by including acts like tonsuring of the head, the moustache of backward caste people by upper-castes as a criminal activity.

20 March SC ruling

  1. A two-judge bench of the Supreme Court ruled that there were “instances of abuse” of the Act by “vested interests” for political or personal reasons.
  2. It, thereafter, laid down guidelines for arrests under the Act “to avoid false implications”.
  3. The court said a preliminary enquiry may be conducted by a DSP to ensure allegations are not “frivolous or motivated” before a case is registered.
  4. It added that a public servant if accused can be only arrested with the permission of the appointing authority.
  5. Others can be arrested only after permission is granted from the Senior Superintendent of Police of the district.
  6. The SSP will have to record in writing the reason for granting permission and hand it to the accused and the concerned court.

Why this decision?

  1. The bench referred to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data for 2015, which said that closure reports had been filed in 15-16 percent of the complaints under the Act
  2. Over 75 percent of such cases taken up by the courts had resulted in acquittals/ withdrawal or compounding of the cases
  3. There was a need to safeguard innocent citizens against false implication and unnecessary arrest for which there is no sanction under the law

What this amendment aims?

  1. The Amendment seeks to insert three new clauses to Section 18 of the original Act.
  2. The first stating the purposes of the Act that, a “preliminary enquiry shall not be required for registration of a First Information Report (FIR) against any person.
  3. Second that “the arrest of a person accused of having committed an offence under the Act would not require any approval”.
  4. While third says that the provisions of Section 438 of the CrPC which deals with anticipatory bail, shall not apply to a case under this Act, “notwithstanding any judgment or order of any Court”.
Aug, 03, 2018

[op-ed snap] The warping of the logic of reservations

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Social empowerment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Protests across India by various communities demanding reservation and effective ways of dealing with such demands


Context

Reservation demands from various communities

  1. The Maratha reservation demands, like those of the Patidars in Gujarat, the Kapus in Andhra Pradesh and the Jats in Haryana, are the inevitable outgrowths of the political warping of the logic of reservations
  2. This has been a contested issue since its inception
  3. The Constituent Assembly fiercely debated the potential divisiveness of a policy of religion or caste-based reservation during a time of nation-building

Comparing oppressed groups across nations

  1. When it comes to certain groups that have been systematically oppressed for centuries, community identity and economic outcomes are difficult to disentangle
  2. The Dalit experience has often been compared to the African-American experience
  3. A solid body of study in the US has shown that centuries of slavery followed by decades of discrimination in housing, education, employment and law and order continue to affect African-American communities today in terms of capital formation, social capital and economic mobility
  4. Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes face the same problem in India
  5. In addition, economic opportunities, entrepreneurship, access to credit and the like are still mediated to a large extent through informal kin and caste networks today

Economic basis for the reservation not plausible

  1. Affirmative action on an economic basis must be nuanced
  2. It cannot be the job of a state as large and diverse as India to carve out a slice of the pie for every economically disadvantaged citizen
  3. Its job is to grow the pie via inclusive growth, ensure good governance that will give citizens a fair shot at it and put in place social safety nets for those who can’t find a place at the table
  4. Economic reservations, if they are to exist, must be only in instances of persistent, intergenerational poverty

Failure of government

  1. Decades of a closed economy failed to deliver the growth necessary for socioeconomic progress and rid the country of entrenched modes of crony capitalism
  2. Various administrations have also failed to put in place policies and governance structures that will allow them to fulfil their basic functions: delivering public goods to citizens and enabling them to partake of economic growth
  3. Reservation is now a quick and dirty fix for problems that are best addressed by the longer, more arduous process of good governance
  4. It also has the advantage of being a practical tool of targeted political mobilization

Way Forward

  1. In May 1949, Vallabhai Patel had said during the Constituent Assembly debates that rather than quotas on the basis of religion, he would wait for the blossoming of toleration and fair-mindedness for the growing conscience among my own countrymen, for there can be no future for this country except on the basis of true democracy and fair opportunity for all
  2. The caste consciousness still runs deep in Indian society and it shapes socioeconomic structures in negative ways
  3. It would take political courage and effective governance of a high order to push back against quota politics
Aug, 03, 2018

Statutory status for BCs panel

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Statutory, regulatory & various quasi-judicial bodies

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: 123rd Constitutional Amendment Bill, National Commission for Backward Classes, Article 338 B, Article 368

Mains level: Reservation and various issues related to it


News

Backward classes panel now a constitutional body

  1. The Lok Sabha has passed the 123rd Constitutional Amendment Bill providing for a National Commission for Backward Classes as a constitutional body
  2. The bill provides for the grant of constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) on par with the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes

Provisions of the bill

  1. The Bill as passed by the Lower House inserts Article 338 B in the Constitution
  2. It provides for a Commission for the socially and educationally backward classes with a Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson and three other members, all of whom shall be appointed by the President of India
  3. It states that the President may specify the socially and educationally backward classes in the various states and union territories
  4. He may do this in consultation with the Governor of the concerned state

Domain of NCBC

  1. The duties of the NCBC include investigating and monitoring how safeguards provided to the backward classes under the Constitution and other laws are being implemented and probe specific complaints regarding violation of rights
  2. Under this measure, the NCBC will have the powers of a civil court while probing any complaint

Bill sent back to RS

  1. As the Lok Sabha passed an alternative amendment to one proposed by the Rajya Sabha, the Bill will once again go to the Rajya Sabha
  2. A constitutional amendment under Article 368 needs to be passed by both Houses separately with a special majority
Jul, 27, 2018

[pib] National Overseas Scholarships for Scheduled Castes

Note4students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the scholarship

Mains level: Government initiatives for empowerment of weaker sections


News

National Overseas Scholarship

  1. The National Overseas Scholarship is a Central Sector scheme for Scheduled Caste (SC) students.
  2. Nodal Ministry: Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment
  3. The Scheme provides financial assistance to the finally selected candidates for pursuing Master level courses and Ph.D abroad in the accredited Institutions/University by an authorized body of that country.
  4. 30% of the awards are reserved for female candidates.
  5. There is no state wise quota of slots under this Scheme.
  6. Advertisements inviting applications under the scheme are published in leading newspapers and Employment News twice a year, once at the beginning of the year and then once again later during the financial year.
Jul, 21, 2018

[op-ed snap] Fault lines in a ‘landmark’ judgment

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Social empowerment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989

Mains level: Changes in the SC/ST act after Supreme Court verdict and how it will reduce the effectiveness of the law


Context

SC/ST Act verdict

  1. The verdict on the SC/ST Atrocities Act marks the collapse of the constitutional scheme to protect the weaker sections
  2. The verdict had framed guidelines on how to deal with a person accused under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989

Protecting the falsely accused

  1. No sensible person can question the need to protect those who are innocent from arbitrary arrest
  2. The demand for “an inbuilt provision” to protect those falsely accused under the Act was first raised by a parliamentary committee in December 2014 and the apex court did so in March 2018
  3. The judgment is concerned with a limited aspect of the Act — protecting innocent officers and employees in government and private sectors from the misuse of the Act

Why the judgment?

  1. One must consider why a fence was put up in the first place before pulling it down
  2. The court appears to have mistaken a large number of acquittals in atrocities cases to be false cases
  3. Similarly, there is no precise data on the scale and extent to which the Act has been misused by SC/ST employees
  4. The bench obviously saw a broader pattern of misuse of the Act

Reasons for acquittal

  1. Police apathy
  2. The social and the economic might of the accused
  3. The dependence of SC/STs on those accused

Encroaching domain of the legislature

  1. The court’s single-minded mission to end “terror in society” rendered it oblivious to the constitutional procedure to be followed in making policies that affect the SC/STs
  2. Article 338 clause 9 stipulates: The Union and every State Government shall consult the Commission [National Commission for Scheduled Castes] on all major policy matters affecting Scheduled Castes
  3. Article 338A, which created the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, provides the same procedure (as per Clause 9) in the case of STs
  4. When the court wears the policy-making hat in matters related to SC/STs, it too is constitutionally-bound to consult these commissions

Way Forward

  1. The judgment has ended up conveying a false and dangerous message that the Atrocities Act is “a charter for exploitation or oppression,” and “an instrument of blackmail or to wreak personal vengeance”
  2. The task of balancing the rights of innocent persons facing false accusations and the need to accord legitimacy to the Atrocities Act requires compassion, equanimity, reverence for the Constitution and awareness
Jun, 25, 2018

[op-ed snap] The tools for counting

 Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Social Issues | Salient features of Indian Society

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC),  Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR)

Mains level: Lacunae in current data available for population and how the inclusion of caste in census data collection can help in better planning


Context

Census & SECC 2011

  1. As the 2011 Census approached, demands for inclusion of data on caste in Census reached a crescendo
  2. The government at that time was opposed to collecting caste data and blocked it by claiming that it was logistically impossible for the Census
  3. It said that caste information could be collected via the planned Below Poverty Line (BPL) Census, later renamed the Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC)
  4. The hasty inclusion of the caste question in the SECC has resulted in largely unusable data

Caste data collection: Differing views

  1. The simple act of asking about caste creates a chasm within society
  2. Colonial Censuses, beginning with the first Census in 1871, included questions about caste and used these data to divide and conquer India by first privileging Brahmins as interpreters of Indian culture and then targeting them as the roots of caste-based oppression and inequality
  3. This passion for classification has also been termed as the source of anti-Brahmin movements
  4. The colonial Censuses via the process of recording caste generated a conception of community as a homogeneous and classifiable community and thereby influenced the processes of political representation

Change that has happened

  1. Indian society has undergone a tremendous transformation since 1931
  2. Dalits, Adivasis, Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and upper castes are still being defined largely using data from 1931 Census
  3. Land ownership that bolstered the power of upper castes has lost its hold
  4. Land fragmentation and decades of agricultural stagnation have turned many upper caste landowners into marginal farmers barely eking out a subsistence

Effects of landlessness

  1. Landlessness, once the bane of Dalit existence, has left the landless better poised to take advantage of rising rural wages, particularly construction wages
  2. According to NSS data, the bottom fourth of forward castes are poorer than the top half of Dalits
  3. India Human Development Survey shows that 56% of Dalit children ages 8-11 cannot read but neither can 32% of forward caste and 47% of OBC children
  4. Economic growth of the past century, combined with strong affirmation action undertaken by successive governments of the independent nation, may have changed relative fortunes of various groups

Caste data collection

  1. Collection of caste data is not easy
  2. The SECC asked interviewers to write down the name of the caste exactly as articulated by the respondent
  3. By some reports, it has revealed as many as 46 lakh castes
  4. This is because sometimes the same caste is spelt in different ways, at other times some individuals report their jati and others upjati making it difficult to create mutually exclusive categories

Preparing for 2021

  1. We have nearly three years before the Census of 2021 and are fortunate to have data from the SECC and technologies rooted in machine learning at our disposal
  2. It would be possible to set up an expert group that uses the SECC data in conjunction with other data sources such as matrimonial advertisements and State-specific Scheduled Castes/OBC lists to make a comprehensive list of castes and condense them into meaningful categories via machine learning tools
  3. These categories could then be validated by domain experts from the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) institutions in various States to come up with a district-specific list of castes that would cover more than 90% of individuals in any given district
  4. Interviewers could use this precoded list to allow respondents to self-classify with a small residual group’s responses being recorded verbatim and categorized later
  5. This is very similar to the technique through which occupational and industrial classification systems are created

Way forward

  1. Collection of data on castes is inherently risky
  2. A caste Census could easily roil the waters in ways that are hard to predict
  3. Without better and more current data, our discourse on caste and affirmative action remains dominated by decisions made by the colonial administration
  4. If we really want to collect data on caste in India and not let the discourse about Indian society be shaped by the political exigencies of colonial India, the time to plan is now
Jun, 07, 2018

Nagaraj Judgment: The law on SC/ST promotions

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Indian Constitution | Significant provisions and basic structure

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of all the Judgments mentioned, Various Amendments related to the Issues

Mains level: Issue of Reservations of SCs/STs in Promotions


News

What is the background of Nagaraj, and what did the court say in its verdict?

  1. Responding to the government’s complaint that promotions were at a “standstill” because of verdicts by the High Courts of Delhi, Bombay, and Punjab & Haryana, the Supreme Court said the government was “not debarred” from making promotions so long as they were “in accordance with the law”
  2. While the court did not specify which law it was referring to, the law that currently applies is the one laid down by the five-judge Bench of Chief Justice of India M Nagaraj & Others vs Union Of India & Others, 2006
  3. The court dealt with a challenge to constitutional amendments aimed at nullifying the impact of judgments including that in the famous Mandal case, on reservations in promotions for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe employees

Questions before Supreme Court

The petition challenged the constitutional validity of:

  1. The Constitution (Seventy-Seventh Amendment) Act, 1995, which inserted Clause 4A in Article 16 (equality of opportunity in matters of public employment);
  2. The Constitution (Eighty-First Amendment) Act, 2000, which inserted Clause 4B in Article 16;
  3. The Constitution (Eighty-Second Amendment) Act, 2000, which inserted a proviso to Article 335 (claims of SCs and STs to services and posts); and
  4. The Constitution (Eighty-Fifth Amendment) Act, 2001, which changed the wording of Article 16(4A).

Indra Sawhney and Others vs Union of India and Others (Mandal case)

  1. In these cases, the Supreme Court observed that reservation under Article 16(4) — which allows the state to make provisions for “reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class of citizens” — did not apply to promotions.
  2. This affected SC and ST employees, and in order to ensure that reservations in promotions continued, Clause 4A was introduced: “Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any provision for reservation in matters of promotion… in favour of the SCs and the STs which, in the opinion of the State, are not adequately represented in the services under the State.”
  3. Clause 4B was inserted to ensure that while calculating the quota for a particular year — capped at 50% by Indra Sawhney — the unfilled or ‘carried forward’ quota from the earlier year was not clubbed with the regular quota of that year.

Qualification and Seniority

  1. The 82nd Amendment Act noted that the Supreme Court had, in both cases ruled that relaxation of qualifying marks and standards of evaluation for reservation in the promotion were not permissible under Article 16(4) in view of the command contained in Article 335.
  2. To restore the relaxations, the 82nd Amendment added a proviso to Article 335, allowing “relaxation in qualifying marks in any examination or lowering the standards of evaluation, for reservation in matters of promotion to any class or classes of services or posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or of a State”.
  3. The 85th Amendment noted that the SC judgments had affected the interests of SC/ST employees “in the matter of seniority on promotion to the next higher grade”.
  4. The amendment introduced the words “with consequential seniority” after “in matters of promotion” in Article 16(4A).

The Nagaraj judgment

  1. The petitioners argued that the four amendments were aimed at reversing the judgments in Indra Sawhney and other cases, that Parliament had arrogated to itself judicial powers, and had, therefore, violated the basic structure of the Constitution.
  2. The court upheld the constitutional validity of the 77th, 81st, 82nd, and 85th Amendments.
  3. It, however, ruled that if the state wished to exercise their discretion and make a provision for reservation in promotions for SCs/STs, the State has to collect quantifiable data showing backwardness of the class and inadequacy of representation of that class in public employment in addition to compliance of Article 335
  4. Also, even if the State has a compelling reason it will have to see that its reservation provision does not breach the ceiling-limit of 50% or obliterate the creamy layer or extend the reservation indefinitely.
Jun, 06, 2018

Dalit women in India die younger than upper caste counterparts: Report

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Indian Society | Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: NFHS, Particulars of the report

Mains level:  Issues associated with Healthcare access for Women, particularly from vulnerable sections in India


News

Discrimination in accessing Healthcare

  1. This is borne out by recent data from the National Family Health Survey (NFHS)
  2. Dalit women in India die younger than upper caste women and lag behind on almost all health indicators
  3. While violence against Dalits may be the main form of discrimination visible to the outside world, there are many other ways in which caste prejudice manifests itself, one of them being health
  4. For Dalits, who make 16.6% of the total population, health inequalities are the result of both past and ongoing discrimination, including limited educational opportunities, high health risk occupations they are forced to take up, discrimination in access to land, employment, housing and other resources

NFHS corollary to Lancet report

The NFHS finding backs up a 2015 Lancet report ‘Health and the Indian caste system’which says at least three factors are associated with how the caste system affects health—

  1. Genetics
  2. Early environment, and
  3. Opportunities due to social mobility.

Here’s the health status of the women from the community. In all counts, they do worse than the national average:

[A] Anemia:

  1. According to the recent data from the NFHS, among the women in the age group 25-49 who have anaemia, 55.9 % are Dalits. The national average among Indians is 53%.
  2. Even though anaemia is a widespread problem faced by women in India, for Dalit women the problem is compounded.

[B] Life expectancy:

  1. The average age of death for Dalit women is 14.6 years younger than for higher caste women, according to the report.
  2. According to that finding, the average age at death for Dalit women was 39.5 years against 54.1 years for higher-caste women.

[C] Access to healthcare:

  1. According to the NFHS data, among Dalits, 70.4 % of women reported problems with accessing healthcare when they knew they are sick.
  2. Among the reasons cited, getting permission to go to the hospital facility, or distance to the health facility, or money were stated as the reasons. In a number of cases those who are admitted receive discriminatory treatment.

[D] Institutional and in-home deliveries:

  1. Among Dalits, 52.2 % women in the age group 15-49 years had a live birth in the presence of a doctor in the preceding five years.
  2. For the upper castes it is 66.8%.

[E] Nutritional status of Dalit women:

One in four women among the Dalits in the 15-49 age bracket are undernourished according to their Body Mass Index (BMI), while one in six women among upper castes have a similar nutritional profile

May, 05, 2018

[op-ed snap] A pattern of impunity: on the SC/ST Act

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of these vulnerable sections

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989

Mains level: Subhash Kashinath Mahajan v. the State of Maharashtra case and its implications on Dalit rights


Context

Protest by Dalits

  1. Dalit and Adivasi rights organizations observed May 1 as ‘National Resistance Day’
  2. The immediate trigger was the Supreme Court order of March 20 on the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (hereafter SC/ST Act)

Subhash Kashinath Mahajan v. the State of Maharashtra case

  1. In the name of protecting innocent non-SC persons from being victimized by false complaints under the SC/ST Act, SC laid down three guidelines that nullify key provisions of this law:
  • it removed the bar on the grant of anticipatory bail
  • it ruled that where the accused is a non-public servant, the police may make an arrest only after approval by a senior superintendent of police
  • it held that before registering an FIR, the police may conduct a preliminary inquiry to ascertain the veracity of the complaint

Reversing the original mandate of the SC/ST Act

  1. Instead of immediately registering an FIR and investigating the accused, the police would now immediately doubt the Dalit and investigate her complaint about veracity
  2. The police are required to do so by law

Way forward

  1. Existence of The SC/ST Act and the SC/ST Amendment Act is a testament to Dalit agency in a heavily casteist society, and a powerful affirmation of the community’s faith in the Indian Constitution
  2. The problem with this law is not its supposed misuse but the inability of India’s criminal justice system to recognize its own casteist biases
  3. In a society seeped in caste, no institution can claim immunity from casteist prejudices or mindset
  4. We need to acknowledge the social matrix of jurisprudence in India, which is caste
Apr, 28, 2018

Religious freedom conditions continued downward trend in India in 2017: USCIRF

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Communalism

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: State of minority groups in India and issues related to them


News

Deteriorating religious conditions

  1. Religious freedom conditions continued a “downward trend” in India last year as Hindu-nationalist groups sought to “saffronize” it through violence, intimidation, and harassment of non-Hindus and Hindu Dalits
  2. This was observed by a US federal government-appointed commission

India’s position lowered

  1. The US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) in its latest report has placed India in the Tier 2 countries of particular concern along with Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cuba, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Laos, Malaysia, and Turkey
  2. Minority groups in India face challenges ranging from acts of violence or intimidation to the loss of political power, to increasing feelings of disenfranchisement and otherness
  3. In 2017, religious freedom conditions continued a downward trend in India
  4. India’s history as a multicultural and multireligious society remained threatened by an increasingly exclusionary conception of national identity based on religion
Apr, 23, 2018

Minorities’ commission to seek constitutional status

Image source

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Statutory, regulatory & various quasi-judicial bodies

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: National Commission for Minorities (NCM), Constitutional status, National Commission for Scheduled Castes, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes

Mains level: Various bodies constituted for vulnerable sections and their effectiveness


News

Asking for constitutional status 

  1. The National Commission for Minorities (NCM) has decided to approach the government for granting it Constitutional status
  2. This is being done in order to protect the rights of minority communities more effectively

Why is such demand being made?

  1. If granted such a status, the NCM will be able to act against errant officials who do not attend hearings, follow its order or are found guilty of dereliction of duty
  2. After getting constitutional status, the NCM can penalise or suspend an officer for two days or send him/her to jail
  3. In its present form, the NCM has powers to summon officials, including chief secretaries and director generals of police, but has to rely on departments concerned to take action against them

Constitutional bodies

  1. Till now, only the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes enjoy constitutional status

Back2Basics

National Commission for Minorities (NCM)

  1. The Union Government set up the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) under the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992
  2. Six religious communities, viz; Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Zoroastrians (Parsis) and Jains have been notified in Gazette of India as minority communities by the Union Government all over India
  3. The NCM adheres to the United Nations Declaration of 18 December 1992 which states that “States shall protect the existence of the National or Ethnic, Cultural, Religious and Linguistic identity of minorities within their respective territories and encourage conditions for the promotion of that identity”
  4. Constitution of India doesn’t define the word ‘Minority’ but has used the word minorities considering two attributes religion or language of a person
  5. The Commission shall consist of
  • a Chairperson,
  • a Vice-Chairperson and
  • Five Members to be nominated by the Central Government from amongst persons of eminence, ability and integrity; provided that five members including the Chairperson shall be from amongst the minority communities
Apr, 21, 2018

[op-ed snap] Checks against atrocities

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of these vulnerable sections

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Subhash Kashinath Mahajan v. the State of Maharashtra case, SC/ST Act, Article 17, IPC, Articles 21 and 22

Mains level: Recent SC judgment related to SC/ST Act and its ramifications


Context

Balancing penal law enforcement and civil liberties

  1. The Supreme Court, in its recent judgment in Subhash Kashinath Mahajan v. the State of Maharashtra, has stirred up a debate which is bound to impact the law and policy on the prohibition of the practice of untouchability and prevention of atrocities against SCs and STs in India
  2. The task of balancing penal law enforcement and civil liberties is best left to Parliament

SC Judgement

  1. An arrest is not mandatory under the SC/ST Act, and the automatic arrest has been scrapped
  2. The court further directed that public servants can only be arrested with the written permission of their appointing authority. This was to protect public servants and private employees from arbitrary arrest
  3. Supreme Court also ruled that before arresting a public servant under the Act, a preliminary investigation by an officer not below the rank of deputy superintendent of police

False cases & other related data

  1. NCRB data show that 5,347 false cases involving SCs and 912 false cases involving STs were registered in 2016
  2. On the contrary, there is plenty of evidence to support the view that the SCs/STs are victims of rising crime each year
  3. NCRB data show that in the past 10 years, crimes against SCs have risen by 51%
  4. Studies by the National Law School of India University and Action Aid India have shown that religious, social and other disabilities involving the practice of untouchability continue to be widespread in India
  5. Thus, there is much empirical evidence to support the stand that the Act needs to be strengthened and not weakened

Inadequate enforcement

  1. Unlike other offences, untouchability is an offence under the Constitution
  2. Article 17 prescribes that ‘the enforcement of any disability arising out of untouchability shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law’
  3. Article 17 is exalted to the position of a fundamental right
  4. However, despite the laws, it is generally accepted that Article 17 has not succeeded in achieving its mandate
    largely due to inadequate enforcement
  5. This leads to low conviction rates and a huge pendency of cases

The legislative trend for enforcement

  1. The legislative trend has been to progressively make the penal law tougher
  2. In 2016, several amendments were introduced to strengthen the 1989 Act such as:
  • including more acts as atrocities; increasing the quantum of punishment for the offences defined as atrocities
  • imposing an enhanced duty on public servants such as police officers who are required to enforce the Act
  • constituting special and exclusive courts to try offences under the Act; introducing time limits for investigation and trial

Possible solutions

  1. The ruling on anticipatory bail is to be welcomed as protecting the accused from needless arrest and humiliation on the one hand
  2. But as a victory for human rights on the other, whether ordinary police powers of registering an FIR report and making arrests in cognisable cases should be whittled down to this extent in atrocity cases is a matter of deliberation
  3. False and frivolous complaints filed under untouchability legislation could also have been dealt with by other means which include directions for prompt investigation and prosecution of such offences by the police and others under the Indian Penal Code, 1860

Way forward

  1. Legislation on untouchability and atrocities against SCs/STs arguably constitutes a radical departure from the usual approach of the criminal justice system
  2. The untouchability and atrocities laws, in its zeal to make the penal law stricter and more effective in the prosecution of offenders, cannot violate basic civil liberties as enshrined in Articles 21 and 22
Apr, 19, 2018

Supreme Court rules NCMEI has wide powers

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms & institutions

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI), Article 30 of the Constitution

Mains level: Rights available to minority sections and measures for their implementation


News

Jurisdiction of NCMEI

  1. The Supreme Court has held that the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI) has original jurisdiction to determine which institution should be granted minority status
  2. The NCMEI Act empowers the Commission to decide all questions relating to the status of an institution as a minority educational institution and to declare its status as such

Ensuring Fundamental right under Article 30

  1. The Constitution grants a fundamental right to all minorities, whether based on religion or language, to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice
  2. The wide power given to an independent forum like the NCMEI to declare an institution as a minority educational institution furthered the fundamental right guaranteed under Article 30

2006 amendments to the NCMEI Act

  1. The 2006 amendments conferred powers of appeal against orders of the competent authority to the NCMEI
  2. A power of cancellation was also vested in the NCMEI to cancel a certificate granted either by an authority or the NCMEI

Back2Basics

National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI)

  1. The National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI) was established to protect and safeguard the educational institutions which are established by the minorities in India
  2. The key objective is to ensure that the true amplitude of the educational rights enshrined in Article 30(1) of the Constitution is made available to the members of the notified religious minority communities
  3. This entails, inter alia, addressing all issues that pertain to the denial, deprivation or violation of the constitutional rights of the minorities to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice, including all issues related to the grant of NOC, minority status certificates and affiliation to universities, wherever applicable
  4. The commission is headed by a Chairman who belongs to a minority community and has been a Judge of a High Court
  5. Two members are nominated by Central Government. They too must belong to a minority community and must be “persons of eminence, ability, and integrity”
Apr, 04, 2018

Supreme Court refuses to stay SC/ST Act changes, says no dilution

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Complement this newscard with SC/ ST Act being abused, prior sanction must for arrest, says Supreme Court.


News

SC’s decision

  1. The SC has refused to keep in abeyance its earlier order preventing automatic arrests on complaints filed under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989

Clarification by the SC

  1. SC said, “It is concerned about innocent people being put behind bars. Can the liberty of a person be taken away without due procedure? There has to be some form of verification”
  2. SC has also said that the court was not trying to stand in the way of the rights of members of the scheduled caste/tribes and was concentrating on protecting false implication of an innocent person

Government’s view

  1. The centre, in its petition said the order “adversely affects a substantial portion of the population of India being SC/ST members”
  2. Government said that the SC order was also “contrary to the legislative policy of the Parliament” as reflected in the SC/ST Act
Mar, 24, 2018

[op-ed snap] Why the Centre must go for revision of judgment on SC/ST law

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of these vulnerable sections

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: SC/ST Act, Anti Dowry law, National Crime Records Bureau

Mains level: Provisions for ensuring the protection of vulnerable sections of society


Context

Altering the basic structure of SC/ST Act

  1. The Supreme Court has delivered a historic judgment altering the basic structure of the Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989
  2. The judgment states that public servants and private employees can only be arrested after a preliminary inquiry
  3. In the case of a public servant the appointing authority must give permission in writing and in the case of the public in general, the SSP’s permission is needed

Other changes

  1. A magistrate can extend arrest only after written permission is secured
  2. Anticipatory bail must be given unless a prima facie case of crimes is made out

Judgement fraught with caste prejudice

  1. No law should be misused, neither should it be diluted or made blunt
  2. The appointing authority is hardly expected to give in writing permission to arrest his junior
  3. If the appointing authority happens to be of the same caste or if the employee concerned enjoys a good rapport with him, he may not give permission at all
  4. Political pressure may also be brought on the appointing authority or the SSP not to give permission to arrest the accused

Is only SC/ST Act being misused?

  1. Various other laws like Anti Dowry law also face the same issue
  2. 293 out of 361 dowry cases in 2015 were wrongly applied
  3. Similarly, the law against sexual harassment is believed to have led to several cases where it has been wrongly and unfairly applied

Why making changes in SC/ST Act is a cause for concern?

  1. According to National Crime Records Bureau data, atrocities on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, in the period 2007-2017, have increased by 66 percent
  2. During this decade, six Dalit women were raped every day, besides the fact that atrocities against SC/ST occurred every 15 minutes
  3. After this judgment, the Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989 will get further diluted

Judicial overreach

  1. The Constituent Assembly entrusted the Parliament to alone make laws and the judiciary to interpret them
  2. Currently, the judiciary is making more laws than Parliament

Way forward

  1. The changes brought in the law by SC has raised concerns amongst vulnerable groups
  2. The government should act in a direction that ensures protection for vulnerable sections and a deterrent for those who commit crimes against the weak sections of society
Mar, 22, 2018

SC/ ST Act being abused, prior sanction must for arrest, says Supreme Court

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of these vulnerable sections

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, National Crime Records Bureau,

Mains level: Misuse of various laws made for the protection of vulnerable sections of society


News

Abuse of law for vested interests

  1. The Supreme Court noted that there were “instances of abuse” of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, by “vested interests” for political or personal reasons
  2. SC laid down stringent safeguards, including provisions for anticipatory bail and a “preliminary enquiry” before registering a case under the Act

Guidelines of the apex court

  1. To avoid the false implication of an innocent, a preliminary inquiry may be conducted by the DSP concerned to find out whether the allegations make out a case under the Atrocities Act and that the allegations are not frivolous or motivated
  2. If the accused is a public servant, he can only be arrested with the permission of the appointing authority
  3. And if the accused is not a public servant, prior permission of the Senior Superintendent of Police of the district will be required

Why this decision?

  1. The bench referred to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data for 2015, which said that closure reports had been filed in 15-16 percent of the complaints under the Act
  2. Over 75 percent of such cases taken up by the courts had resulted in acquittals/ withdrawal or compounding of the cases
  3. There was a need to safeguard innocent citizens against false implication and unnecessary arrest for which there is no sanction under the law

SC view on secularism/casteism

  1. The working of the Act should not result in perpetuating casteism which can have an adverse impact on the integration of the society and the constitutional values
  2. Secularism is a basic feature of the Constitution
  3. Irrespective of caste or religion, the Constitution guarantees equality in its preamble as well as other provisions including Articles 14-16
  4. Interpretation of the Atrocities Act should promote constitutional values of fraternity and integration of the society
Jan, 29, 2018

Plea to exclude SC/ST creamy layer from quota

Image source

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of vulnerable sections

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Reservation provisions, creamy layer, Indra Sawhney case, M. Nagaraj case 2006

Mains level: Changes required in reservation system to provide intended benefits


News

Demand for creamy layer for SC/ST

  1. The Supreme Court will hear a petition to exclude the affluent members, or the creamy layer, of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes from the benefits of reservation
  2. This is the first time a petition has been filed urging the Supreme Court to introduce the creamy layer concept for the SCs/STs

Arguments given in petition

  1. The affluent among the SCs/STs are syphoning off the reservation benefits given to them by the State government as well as the Central government
  2. The benefits of the reservation policy are not percolating down to the people who are in actual need of them
  3. Around 95% members of these communities are at a disadvantage
  4. The petition argues that no class or caste remained homogeneously backward across time

Background: Indra Sawhney case

  1. The Indra Sawhney case or the Mandal case upheld the caste-based reservation for the OBCs as valid
  2. The court also said the creamy layer of the OBCs (those earning a specified income) should not get the benefits of reservation
  3. The ruling confined the exclusion of the creamy layer to the OBCs and not the SCs/STs

M. Nagaraj case 2006

  1. SC’s Constitution bench had given a judgement that the “means test” should be taken into consideration to exclude the creamy layer from the group earmarked for reservation
  2. Means test is a scrutiny of the value of assets of an individual claiming reservation

Back2Basics

Constitutional provisions for reservation

  1. Under Article 15 (3) of the Constitution, any special provision may be made for women and children belonging to all social groups transcending caste, religion etc., for their advancement and welfare in all fields
  2. Under Article 15 (4), special provisions may be made for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward class and for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes
  3. Article 16 (4) permits the state to make any provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favor of any backward class, which, in the opinion of the state, is not adequately represented in the services under it
  4. The expression “backward class” in this sub-clause is interpreted by the Supreme Court to mean “socially and educationally backward”
  5. Article 46 directs the state to promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the “weaker sections of the people”, particularly of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes and also directs the state “to protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation”
  6. Article 335 states that the claims of the members of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes shall be taken into consideration consistently with the maintenance of efficiency of administration in the making of appointments to the services and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union and of a State
Dec, 07, 2017

Minority tag for Hindus: NCM forms committee

Note4students

 Mains Paper 2: Governance | mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of these vulnerable sections

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: National Commission for Minorities, Articles 25 to 30 of Constitution

Mains level: Minority status in India and various provisions related to it


News

Committee to look into whether Hindus should get minority status

  1. The National Commission for Minorities (NCM) has formed a three-member committee to look into whether Hindus should get minority status in eight states where they are not the dominant religious group
  2. A petition has been filed with NCM seeking minority status for Hindus in eight states: J&K, Lakshadweep, Mizoram, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya and Punjab

Why this move?

  1. The activist had originally filed a petition in the Supreme Court
  2. The court declined to adjudicate, saying it is not something that the court can decide on
  3. Activist then approached the Commission with his plea

What does petition say?

  1. According to 2011 Census, Hindus are a minitory in eight states
  2. Their minority rights are being siphoned off illegally and arbitrarily to the majority population
  3. This is because neither central nor state governments have notified Hindus as a ‘minority’ under Section 2(c) of National Commission for Minority Act
  4. Thus, Hindus are being deprived of their basic rights, guaranteed under Articles 25 to 30 of Constitution
Nov, 16, 2017

Quota in promotions: Five-judge bench to decide whether 2006 order needs to be revisited

Image source

Note4Students

Mains Paper 2: Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims level: Article 145

Mains level: This news card talks about whether SC will examine its 2006 judgment on the reservation of SC and ST in promotions or not. Also highlights why a re-examination of the judgment is required


News

Context

  1. A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court will examine whether its 2006 judgment on the reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in promotions needs to be revisited.
  2. The matter was referred to the Constitution Bench by a three-judge bench.

What’s the matter?

  1. The Constitution Bench has to decide on the limited issue whether the order in M Nagaraj vs the Union of India needs to be looked at afresh.
  2. The Constitution Bench will not go into the merit of the matter.

The 2006 Judgment

  1. In 2006, a five-judge Constitution Bench had ruled that the state was not bound to provide reservation for SCs/STs in promotions.
  2. But in case any state wished to make such a provision, it was required to collect quantifiable data showing backwardness of the class as well as its inadequate representation in public employment.
  3. Additionally, the state was required to ensure that reservation does not breach the 50 percent ceiling, adversely affect the creamy layer or extend it indefinitely.

The 2015 Petition on which the SC has acted

  1. Acting on a 2015 petition filed by the Tripura government which challenged an order of the Tripura High Court, a two-judge bench referred the matter to a Constitution Bench under Article 145(3).
  2. A petition before the High Court had challenged certain provisions of The Tripura Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Reservation of vacancies in services and posts) Act, 1991, saying that under these provisions, the state had granted reservation in violation of rules laid down in M Nagaraj vs Union of India case.

Views of CJI

  1. The CJI is examining the issue whether a two-judge judge bench directly refers a matter to Constitution Bench
  2. According to him a Constitution Bench will first decode if the matter needs to be reconsidered at all
Apr, 13, 2016

Maharashtra introduces Bill against caste panchayat

  1. News: Maharashtra govt presented the much-awaited bill against caste panchayats in the State
  2. Reason: In recent times, Maharashtra has witnessed an increasing number of incidents of social boycott and violence at the orders of caste panchayats
  3. Provisions: It prohibits social boycott of a person or group of persons including their family members
  4. Significance: Maharashtra will be the first State in the country to enact a law against social boycott of individuals or families by caste panchayats
  5. Maharashtra also took lead in formulating anti superstition law
Jan, 27, 2016

Genetics throws light on genesis of caste system

  1. Religious diktat enforced more than a millennium ago can have repercussions in genetic make-up of modern-day Indians.
  2. It has found that the country’s billion inhabitants have a far more complex origin than previously imagined.
  3. However, in the complexities of genes lie the secret of one of the country’s most persistent practices: the caste system.
  4. During Gupta period, the social strictures against marriage between caste were enforced.
  5. The block lengths of ancestral genes pointed to the era when mixing of castes ended.
  6. This is the result of a study of numerous communities undertaken by researchers from the National Institute of BioMedical Genomics in WB.
Jan, 23, 2016

Dalit activism is now a reality across campuses in India

Indian campuses are witnessing unusual caste flare-ups, highlighted by the suicide of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula in Hyderabad.

  1. The Hindu examines how caste fault lines are muddying higher education.
  2. The government’s ill-crafted budget cuts and erratic decision-making are adding to the grievances of a generation.
  3. Dalit student politics is making its presence felt in many Indian universities.
  4. With the alleged suicide of a Dalit student at the University of Hyderabad, this movement is suddenly in the news.
  5. Reservations and discrimination are major issues for organisations.
Jan, 21, 2016

Rohith Vemula could not do research as he was embroiled in probes

The final blow was delivered by Human Resource Development Ministry’s letters and reminders to the university.

  1. The research scholar who committed suicide on the University of Hyderabad (UoH) campus, was known as a bright doctoral student who had secured a CSIR-Junior Research Fellowship (JRF).
  2. The day, January 17, that he hanged himself using ASA’s banner, he was on the 14th day of a sleep-in strike against the authorities.
  3. Following his expulsion from the hostel after a series of incidents and probes which took place on campus dating back to June 2015.
  4. Mr. Vemula could neither pursue his research nor political activism because he had been tied down by 3 ongoing investigations.
  5. With Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya referring to the “assault” case on ABVP leader and “anti-national, casteist and extremist” activities on the campus, the matter had already taken a political turn.
Jan, 21, 2016

Research scholar hangs self after expulsion from Central University

Rohith Vemula hanged himself 12 days after he was expelled from his hostel along with four other researchers.

  1. A Dalit research scholar of the University of Hyderabad (UoH), allegedly hanged himself to death 15 days after he was expelled from his hostel along with four other researchers.
  2. The 5 Dalit students of Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) had been on a sleep-in strike in the open on the campus ever since their expulsion.
  3. In the 5-page suicide note recovered from the room Rohith had mentioned how he always “looked at the stars and dreamt of being a writer” and an established academic.
  4. As per the university orders, 5 students, including Vemula, were denied entry into the hostel and permission to gather together.
  5. Following a scuffle between two students organisations — ABVP and ASA.
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