On February 2020, a Lok Sabha MP stated that the government should immediately put all issues pertaining to reservations for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution so that they are not challenged in the court. This statement comes days after the Supreme Court ruled that the reservation in the matter of promotions of the public post was not a fundamental right and that a state cannot be compelled to offer quota if it chooses not to. The Ninth Schedule of the Indian Constitution, since its enactment, remains a contentious issue as its constitutionality is questioned.
Recently, the Supreme Court of India taking suo motu cognizance of some of the key issues related to Covid-19 management which included the supply of oxygen and essential drugs and declaration of lockdowns noted that the matter being heard in the several High Courts is ‘creating confusion’ and ‘diversion of resources’. Various High Courts were dealing with such cases when the Supreme Court of India took up the issue to itself and decided to pass some orders on the issue of ‘distribution of essential supplies and services during pandemic’. Additionally, the Court issued an order asking the State governments and the Union Territories to “show cause why uniform orders” should not be passed by the Supreme Court. It thus indicated the possibility of transfer of cases to the Supreme Court which it has done on various occasions. The recent incident brings out the issue of judicial federalism to the fore and highlights its functioning in India.
In recent times there have been intense debates and speculations about increasing judicial interventions into the legislative and executive policies of the government. Being a parliamentary democracy, it is essential to understand the limitations and distinctions of the authority vested in the executive, legislative and judiciary to ensure proper cooperation and coordination within the government.
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.