Reservation and Equality both are opposite to each other but have been described as a right in the constitution of India. Equality on one side deals with the equal rights of the citizens and Reservation on the other side talks about the discrimination on the basis of educationally and socially backwards. The consitution of India is itself mandates reservation but it does not define the word ‘backward classes’. This issue of reservation has always a point of dispute for the non-reserved and reserved communities in our country. In India, the word ‘reservation’ is used by various politicians during the election time to appease their vote banks.
From a constitutional law perspective, Article 15(4) of the constitution of India was drafted so that the government can make special provision for the betterment of backward classes. Also, Article 16(4) of the constitution allows the state to draft provision for the reservation of appointments in favour of any backward classes. At first instance, both the above stated articles are exception to Article 14 of the constitution which talks about equality before the law. According to Article 14 there should be equality amongst the equals. Yes, Article 15(4) was not drafted during the whole constitution was drafted but was drafted as an amendment to the constitution. It was that time when the constitution makers made this amendment to uplift the backward class but now the backward classes are as equal to the other classes so there is no point of having Articles 15 and 16 of the constitution.
In the case of Balaji v. State of Mysore, it was held by the Supreme court that only on the basis of person’s caste, you cannot determine whether it is backward or not. There are other factors such as occupation, poverty and place of birth which should be taken into consideration. When the constitution was framed, then the provisions relating to the reservations were made for educationally and socially backward communities but today, this has more become a caste issue.
Consider the recent case of Hardik Patel, who is protesting for including Patidar caste in other backward class. The Patidar caste of Gujarat have a high social status and they were not deprived of education, but why they are protesting for reservations is something which cannot be explained. The constitution of India has given reservations to other backward classes and also as per our Preamble to the constitution our country is a secular country which means respecting all religions and communities. Therefore, today the Patidar community is protesting for reservations, tomorrow other community will protest for reservations.
However, the Supreme court of India in a recent judgement on reservations has asked the central government to take steps to scrap off the reservations in the institutions of higher education. According to me, the reservation should be made by taking the economical conditions of the person into consideration and not social and educational backwardness. Although, the reservations were made with an objective to uplift the status of backward communities but this was made during the time when constitution was drafted. Today the reservation system is working against its objective as it is uplifting the reserved section of the society and detering the perspectives of non-reserved section of the society. The government can make an alternative of the reservation system by giving reservation only on the basis of economic status and can give various opportunities to the students to earn while they are still studying. Also, during the time when the constitution was drafted by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar the two articles i.e. Articles 15 and 16 of the constitution were drafted as temporary provisions keeping in mind that when the backward classes will be uplifted these provisions will be scrapped from the constitution. Now, 65 years have been passed after drafting the constitution and now the political system of our country has taken it as a permanent provision.
Submitted by :
Jindal Global Law School