Narendra Modi government’s new 10% economic reservation quota will not be open to economically weaker members of scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other backward classes.
The 124th constitutional amendment bill introduced by Thawar Chand Gehlot in Parliament today makes a specific exclusion for the above categories from being admitted under ‘economic reservation’.
The poor within the SC, ST and OBC are expected to utilize the quotas reserved for these groups, and not come apply in the main ‘economically backward’ quota.
REASON FOR RESERVATION
The bill says that the government has found that economically weaker sections of general category candidates have “largely remained excluded” from getting government jobs or attending higher educational institutions.
“The directive principles of State policy contained in Article 46 of the Constitution enjoins that the State shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people…
“However, economically weaker sections of citizens were not eligible for the benefit of reservation. With a view to fulfill the mandate of article 46, and to ensure that economically weaker sections of citizens get a fair chance of receiving higher education and participation in employment in the services of the State, it has been decided to amend the constitution of India,” the bill says.
The phrasing of the bill potentially opens it to two legal challenges.
First is the exclusion of poorer sections of SC, ST and OBC groups.
A question could be asked whether the poorer sections of SC, ST and OBC classes have a similar quota exclusively dedicated to them or not.
While the answer is ‘yes’ for the poor among OBCs — as the entire OBC quota is dedicated to the poor among the OBC — the question doesn’t have clear answers in case of the poor from the SC and ST communities.
Three months ago, the Supreme Court ruled that the entire SC and ST quota has to be reserved for the poor from these two sections.
However, the order is yet to be implemented in practice, and currently, the poor among SC and ST sections do not have any quota dedicated to them.
The second legal challenge is on the definition of ‘sections of population’.
The center has used the Directive Principle that enjoins it to protect the ‘weaker sections of the society, particularly SC and ST’ to justify the quota for economically less-well-off people in forward communities.
The bill could be challenged on the ground that the poor within the forward community cannot be brought under the definition of ‘weaker sections of the society’. However, the government could argue that the poor, irrespective of their social status, come under the definition of a ‘weaker section’.
Another potential challenge could be over the claim that the poor among the forward communities “have remained largely excluded from” government jobs and institutions of higher education. It is not known if the government has done any survey to study the matter.
You can read the full amendment below: