Saturday, September 18, 2021

SC seeks Centre’s response on 10% quota, refuses to stay amendment

New Delhi, January 25: The Supreme Court issued a notice to the Centre on Friday on a set of petitions questioning the Constitutional amendment which introduced 10% reservation to the economically weaker sections of the society.
A bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjiv Khanna, however, refused to stay the implementation of the amendment.
Several lawyers opposing the Constitution (103rd) Amendment Act, 2019, requested the court to put on hold the amendment, but the bench said: “We are examining the matter. We would not give any stay order.”
The top court also refused to pass orders to the effect that whatever appointments they make under the new reservation policy would be subject the outcome of the case before it.
The matter, court said, would be heard after the pleadings are complete. SC was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the recently-enacted law to provide 10% reservation in government jobs and higher education to economically weaker sections from unreserved category, otherwise referred to as general category. The petition was first filed by an NGO, Youth for Equality and it contends that the law alters the “basic structure” of the Constitution. Later a slew of petitions were filed before the top court in connection with the amendment.
The reservation bill was passed by both houses of Parliament within a span of two days, three days after which, President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent. ON January 14 the Act came into force.
The petitioners have said that the amendment violated several basic features of the Constitution. According to the petitioners, the economic criteria cannot be the sole basis for reservations under the Constitution. Even the top court has declared this in its Mandal judgment, the petitioner said.
“Such an Amendment is hence, vulnerable and ought to be struck down as it merely negates a binding judgement,” says the PIL.
The reservation also breaches the 50% ceiling limit as laid down by the top court in the M Nagaraj case in 2006.
Under the existing constitutional arrangements, reservation in jobs and education is available to the members of the Scheduled Caste (SC), Scheduled Tribe (ST) and Other Backward Classes (OBC) communities.
The government has, however, maintained that the amended law can withstand legal scrutiny. Speaking during the debate on the bill in the Lok Sabha, finance minister Arun Jaitley said, “The apex court had stated that the rule of 50% [cap on reservations] applies only to reservation for backward classes… This bill is for social and economic justice.” (Courtesy: HT)