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Editorial Comment: There should be 50% cap on Reservation and it should be on economic basis and not caste lines

Lalit Shastri

Union Minister of Finance and Corporate Affair Arun Jaitley may be good in his arguments in Court. He is known for his brilliant oratory skills but his assertion in Parliament that the Constitution 124th Amendment is not a case for judicial scrutiny deserves to be blown into smithereens. To assert his contention, Jaitley had quoted from the Supreme Court’s findings in the Indra Sawhney case. In this matter, the Supreme Court had observed that there is no special law of judicial review when the reservations under Article 16(4) are under scrutiny. The judicial review will be available only in the cases of demonstrably perverse identification of the backward classes and in the cases of unreasonable percentage of reservations made for them. Also the apex court had put the 50 per cent cap on reservation for backward classes.
With reference to the 124th Amendment, Jaitley said since the supreme court has put the 50 per cent cap on reservation for backward classes (that can be determined only on caste basis), there is no ground for judicial scrutiny of the latest Amendment which relates to reservation for the econominally weaker sections . This may sound valid to those who are gullible and devoid of logic.
What should not be ignored is that the Supreme Court had taken into consideration Clause (4) of Article 16 while capping reservation at 50 per cent. At that point of time there was no provision or mention of economically weaker sections in either Article 15 or Article 16. Jaitley should be advised to appreciate the letter and spirit of the Supreme Court observation/order in the Indra Sawhney case. The Spirit obviously is that there should be no tinkering with the 50 per cent general merit seats available till now to the unreserved category. The additional 10 per cent reservation for the economically deprived sections will make competition even more tough for the deserving and meritorious general category candidates who are already finding themselves against the wall.
The best that can be done is to abolish reservation on caste lines. Instead 50 percent seats in educational institutions and government jobs should be reserved for the economically weaker sections cutting across caste and religious lines.


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