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Why in news?

Supreme court in its recent judgement extended the benefits of SC/ST’s to physically disabled in order to create level playing field and ensure social justice.

Why such a decision ?

  • Disability is recognised by law and have always been an underprivileged and under­represented section in the society.
  • Delhi High Court had decided in 2012 that “people suffering from disabilities are also socially backward, and are therefore, at the very least, entitled to the same benefits as given to the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes candidates”
  • Without imparting proper education to those suffering from disabilities, “there cannot be any meaningful enforcement of their rights
    • According to 2001 Census  illiteracy rate among the disabled was at 51%
  • The share of disabled children out of school was quite higher than other major social categories.
  • So, Supreme Court has recognised the difficulty of the disabled in accessing education or employment, regardless of their social status.

Argument against the judgement

Disabled individual from traditionally privileged community will be at an  advantage over those suffering from historical social disability.

What is Reservation?

  • In India, reservation is a system which ensures that individuals born in the castes categorised as SCs and STs and Other Backwards Classes are given priority over General Category candidates in recruitment to government jobs, admission in higher educational institutions, and selection of Legislative and parliament members.
  • The objective of the reservation is to address the historic oppression, inequality and discrimination faced by these communities.

The current scenario of reservation in India:

  • Today 50% of seats in government-aided educational institutions and public jobs are reserved for the SC, ST and, OBCs.
  • The central government of India reserves 27% of higher education, and individual states may legislate further reservations. 
  • The current scenario of Reservation in India is:
    • 15% seats are reserved for Scheduled Castes (SC).
    • 5% of seats are reserved for Scheduled tribes (ST).
    • 27% seats are reserved for Other backward classes (OBC).
    • Total constitutional reservation percentage is 49.5% and the rest 50.5% seats are open to all i.e. general, SC, ST And OBC.

How does the Indian Constitution deal with Reservation?

  • Article 15(4): It was added by the Constitution (1st Amendment) Act, 1951. It provides for special provision for the advancement of backward classes.
  • Article 16(3): Forbids discrimination on the ground of residence. It provides for reservation of Posts in Public Employment on the Basis of Residence:
  • Article 16(4): It provides for reservation for Backward Classes in Public Employment. It empowers the state to make special provision for the reservation in appointments of posts in favour of any backward class of citizens which in the opinion of the State are not adequately represented in the services under the State.
  • Fundamental Right: The Constitution of India provides for the right to equality. A fundamental right, it provides for equality irrespective of religion, race, gender, caste or place of birth. It also includes the right of equal opportunity in employment as well as the abolition of titles and untouchability.
  • Preamble: The preamble states, Equality of status and of opportunity”. Reservation hence seemed to be a justified recourse. It elevated those sections of society that had for generations been neglected. It provided a chance for equal opportunities or status in society and culture.

 Indra Sawhney judgment

  • It recognized socially and economically backward classes as a category and recognized the validity of the 27 per cent reservation.
  • The concept of ‘creamy layer’ gained currency through this judgment. Those among the OBCs who had transcended their social backwardness were to be excluded from the reservation.
  • It laid down a 50 per cent limit on reservations and observed that economic, social and educational criteria were needed to define backward classes.
  • Reservation for backward classes (which include OBCs and SCs & STs) should be confined to initial appointments and not extend to promotions
February 2024