The Supreme Court has recently ruled that reservation for promotions in public posts is not a fundamental right, and a state cannot be forced to provide the quota if it decided not to. The idea that reservation is not a right may be in line with the Constitution, but, the government still has the responsibility to offer Reservation for vulnerable sections of Indian society.
A 5-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court reopened the debate on quota within quota for SCs and STs by supporting their sub-classification to ensure equality in the upliftment of all within the marginalised community. Disagreeing with another SC verdict on the same subject, the case was referred to a larger bench comprising of 7 judges or more.
On February 7th, 2020, with regards to Mukesh Kumar Vs the State of Uttarakhand case, the Supreme Court ruled that states are not legally bound to provide reservations to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in government jobs. The apex court had stated that individuals do not have the fundamental rights to claim reservations in the promotions. This is based on the provisions of the Indian constitution. This recent judgement is not new. The top court had pointed out the fact that reservations are not fundamental rights in several judgements in the past.
The Supreme Court recently criticised the verdict delivered by its two-judge bench in March 2018 that had virtually diluted provisions of arrest under the SC/ST Act and asked whether a judgement could be passed against the spirit of the Constitution.
Indicating that it would make certain orders to “bring-in equality” as per the provisions of law, the top court said people belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes are subjected to “discrimination” and “untouchability” even after over 70 years of Independence.
Taking a serious view of manual scavenging situation and deaths of SC/ST people engaged in such work, the top court said nowhere in the world people are sent to “gas chambers to die”.
The National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC), a statutory authority established in 1993 was given limited powers such as recommending to the government the inclusion or exclusion of a community in the central list of OBCs.
Therefore the government had passed the 102nd constitution amendment act, 2018 to provide constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) and empower it to hear complaints as well as protect the interests of socially and educationally backward classes.
However, there is also a question arises whether merely passing multiple acts and giving constitutional status is enough? considering the situation where several states have not yet implemented 27% reservation for OBCs and the skewed representation of backward sections in various levels of the government.
Recently, the union government has introduced 124th Constitution Amendment Bill (10% Quota Bill) in the Parliament to provide for 10% reservation for economically weaker sections (EWS) among the general category candidates in higher education and government employment.