Reservation in India - A fundamental right or not?
Reservation in India has always been a hot topic which almost every party has supported since its inception to gain political mileage and show themselves as the supporter of the backward classes of the society. Although the motive behind the enactment of the special provision for backward classes has been quite pious, it later evolved into a political tool to lure the voters. Not just reservations, a lot of political parties later were founded solely on the grounds of caste and for the appeasement of some castes.
Recently, the Supreme Court of India has taken a tough stance on the divide created in society using the constitution and furthering it to peddle political propaganda. The most recent example of the same is its decision where the Supreme Court said, ‘Reservation is not a Fundamental Right’, which caused massive outrage and netizens started trending about this decision, in which some hailed this decision and others criticised it.
In its recent judgement, the Supreme Court in CMC Association v/s Union of India and others, Supreme Court ordered the minority medical colleges to admit the students on the basis of their performance in the NEET examination striking down their earlier judgement of 2015 when they gave judgement in the favour of CMC Association. The Supreme Court also interpreted the various provisions related to the religious rights in Part 3 on Indian constitution in this judgement.
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The Supreme Court in its other judgement related to the promotion of the SC (Scheduled Castes) and ST (Scheduled Tribes) candidates observed that they cannot issue a mandamus to the states to provide reservations. They also established that reservation in promotion is not a fundamental right and the reservations are totally on the mercy of the states. If they want to give then they can, otherwise, they cannot be forced into it by the state.
In Article 16(4), the constitution allows the state to make special provisions for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class of citizens which, in the opinion of the State, is not adequately represented in the services under the State. Article 335 forces the state to follow the guidelines of reservation of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, while offering any employment opportunities to the citizens of the nation. It must be noted that the above-mentioned Article does not say a word about reservation being a Fundamental Right and it also does not include the OBCs in the definitions.
Article 340 which empowers the President to constitute a commission for the welfare of socially and educationally backward classes, does not necessarily mean that any recommendation given by any such commission will be binding on the government of India. Further, any of the Articles mentioned above do not fall into the category of Fundamental Rights. Hence, any claim which has been made under Article 32 in front of the Supreme Court of India, will very rarely stand a chance. As the ultimate interpreter of the Constitution of India, decisions of the Supreme Court shall be considered as the actual definition of the constitution and not a concoction.
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With reservation being a very sensitive political topic, political parties, irrespective of their ideologies have been supporting it as none of them want to lose their voter base by infuriating the people of reserved category. But is it time that India walks on the paths of the Bangladesh Government and ends the system of reservations like Bangladesh did in 2018?
Now the question remains, has reservation achieved the set goals or has it failed? It remains to be seen how states react to this as various media outfits have started writing on this issue, as per their inclinations to form a major view and thrusting the government to clear their stand. This development with the ongoing Coronavirus might be a major setback to some, while a moment of joy for others who wanted the caste-based reservation to end.