Reservation System In India & Right To Equality

Reservation is a system of affirmative action in India that provides historically disadvantaged groups representation in education, employment, and politics. According to this system, under the provisions of Indian Constitution allows the Indian Government to set reserved quotas or seats which lower the qualifications needed in exams, job openings etc. for the socially and economically backward citizens. Reservation in India is given to all 3 groups: namely,

  • Scheduled castes, (SC)
  • Scheduled tribes, (ST)
  • Other Backward classes (OBC)

The Scheduled Castes are communities which had been at the bottom in the caste system. Originally reservation was only given to SCs and STs but was later extended to OBCs in 1987 after the implementation of the Mandal Commission report. So, basically it is clear that the ‘reservations’ or ‘quotas’ granted in India is based on their caste identities. The reason behind this reservations and quotas are a way to cope up with the discrimination these groups face by birth. The Government of India has the duty to ensure equality among its citizens. Reservation is considered as one of the key tools in controlling social oppression and injustice against certain classes.

Provisions Under The Reservation System In India And Its Aim

The growth of the nation depends upon the inclusiveness of all social groups. This inclusiveness includes that all social groups have equal access to the services provided by the state and equal opportunity for upward economic and social mobility. It is also necessary to ensure that there is no discrimination against any section of our society. So, we know that in India there are certain minority groups such as SCs, STs, and OBCs, who face discrimination throughout their entire life. Also, there are other certain groups which may be discriminated against and which suffer from handicaps, such as, persons with disabilities, older persons, street children, beggars, and victims of substance abuse.  

The surroundings and the providing of basic rights such as clean drinking water, sanitation facilities, food, shelter, and educational opportunities.   Articles 341 for SCs, Article 342 for STs, Article 340 for OBCs, Article 30 which provides the right to minorities to establish and administer educational institutions and so on. Not only this, the Constitution of India provides and guarantees protection for SCs from social injustice and all forms of exploitation(art.46), it guarantees equality before law(art.14), the state also ensures the non-discrimination against any citizen on grounds of caste(art.15(1)), untouchability is banned under(art.17) etc.

There are certain constitutional provisions for the safeguard of STs such as articles 15(4), 16(4),46, 243M,243ZC,244,334,335,338A,339(1) and the fifth and sixth schedules. Not only this for the educational development of the tribes, the Departments of Elementary Education and Literacy and of Higher Education in states have provided special incentives to ST students which includes textbooks, uniform, abolition of tuition fee etc. In 2001, the National Scheduled Tribes Finance and Development corporation was set up with an aim to provide support various income and employment generating through loans, marketing support, training etc.

Specific programs for the development of OBCs were initiated from the Eighth five-year plan. For the economic development of OBCs, The National Backward Classes Finance and Development Corporation (NBCFDC) was set up in 1992 with an aim to promote self-employment projects among the OBCs living below poverty line.

Those who are not members of these groups are grouped together as General Category. The general category consists of persons of higher castes and they do not get any benefit from these reservations as these reservations are mainly aimed for the protection and promotion of socially discriminated sections. There are also reservations for women as part of gender reservations. This are highly needed for a society like India where girl child is killed before birth itself. The reservation for women will help them in empowering them through the educational as well as economic development which will eventually leads to social and political development of women all over the country.

Right To Equality & Reservation

The Constitution of India guarantees equality of status and opportunity and article 14 of the Indian Constitution as a fundamental right that ensures equality before law and equal protection of the law within the territories of India. The aim of the laws is to ensure that all persons should be treated equally before law without giving any privilege to anyone. Article 14 forbids any forms of class legislation but not forbids classification which rests upon reasonable grounds of distinction. If the classification is not reasonable the legislative or executive action will be arbitrary and the guarantee of equality under article 14 would be breached.

The reservation is an attempt to promote equality among citizens by ensuring equal and fair opportunities to all. They are mostly government-initiated schemes in educational and governmental settings to ensure that minority groups are not pushed backwards and whether they are included in all initiatives and sectors or schemes. But there are still certain allegations regarding the reservations that it is a hindering the process of enforcement of right of right to equality. The justifications behind the reservation are to compensate for past discrimination. It is the promotion of social equality through preferential treatment of socio-economically disadvantaged sections of our society. Also, it is understandable that right to equality is the basis of reservation.

Reservations at the time of Independence was meant to achieve the goal of development. But now it has further fragmentation and division of the society on caste lines which was never the objective. Therefore, the government has the duty to help the weaker sections of caste-based society. Equality has been promised by state under article 14 of the Indian Constitution which is considered as the soul of the Indian Constitution because without equality no country can be considered as republic. Equality itself means that like should be treated alike and not unlike should be treated like. That is why article 14 permits reasonable classification between likes and unlike so that unlike should be given special treatment to bring them up on the equal footing with the likes. It is a fact that the identical treatment in unequal circumstances would amount itself to injustice. So, we can say that Reservation is a concept developed in India to provide special care and protection to the weak so that they can overcome their weaknesses and compete with the privileged or strong sections.

Case Laws

  • State of Madras v. Champakam Dorairajan [AIR 1951 SC 226]

In this case, court ruled that caste-based reservations as per Communal Award violate Article 15(1) of the Indian Constitution.

  • M.R. Balaji v. State of Mysore [AIR 1963 SC 649]

In this case, the court’s ruling said that the government’s 68% reservation on college admissions was deemed excessive and unreasonable and was capped at 50%.

Conclusion

We can clearly see that the intention behind reservations is not faulty but the implication and the application of is faulty. The implementation of these reservations and quotas all these years had further deepened the caste distinctions in the society. This had led to the marginalization of poor and only benefited top layer of the so-called backward class. The caste-based reservations should be withdrawn, and a reservation system based on financial or economic status must be implemented. This will help the marginalized poor sections to improve their situation. Not only this, but the government also must conduct more surveys to identify the needy, downtrodden and under privileged. This will help in the socio-economic development of our nation. Otherwise, rich will became richer, and poor became poorer. This will further lead to a gap between rich and poor that will certainly hinder the development of India and its citizens.

FAQs

Who Are The Main Groups Given The Benefits Of The Caste-Based Reservation System In India?

There are mainly three categories under the caste-based reservation system in India, namely.

  • Scheduled Castes (SC)
  • Scheduled Tribes (ST)
  • Other Backward Classes (OBC)

What Are The Constitutional Provisions Available For These Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, And Other Backward Classes?

Articles 341 for SCs, Article 342 for STs, Article 340 for OBCs, Article 30 which provides the right to minorities to establish and administer educational institutions and so on. Not only this, the Constitution of India provides and guarantees protection for SCs from social injustice and all forms of exploitation(art.46), it guarantees equality before law(art.14), the state also ensures the non-discrimination against any citizen on grounds of caste(art.15(1)), untouchability is banned under(art.17) etc. There are certain constitutional provisions for the safeguard of STs such as articles 15(4), 16(4),46, 243M,243ZC,244,334,335,338A,339(1) and the fifth and sixth schedules. Not only this for the educational development of the tribes, the Departments of Elementary Education and Literacy and of Higher Education in states have provided special incentives to ST students which includes textbooks, uniform, abolition of tuition fee etc.

In 2001, the National Scheduled Tribes Finance and Development corporation was set up with an aim to provide support various income and employment generating through loans, marketing support, training etc. Specific schemes for the development of OBCs were initiated from the Eighth five-year plan. For the economic development of OBCs, The National Backward Classes Finance and Development Corporation (NBCFDC) was set up in 1992 with an aim to promote self-employment projects among the OBCs living below poverty line.

Does Reservation System Violate Right To Equality Under Article 14?

Equality has been promised by state under article 14 of the Indian Constitution which is considered as the soul of the Indian Constitution because without equality no country can be considered as republic. Equality itself means that like should be treated alike and not unlike should be treated like. That is why article 14 permits reasonable classification between likes and unlike so that unlike should be given special treatment to bring them up on the equal footing with the likes. It is a fact that the identical treatment in unequal circumstances would amount itself to injustice. So, we can say that Reservation is a concept developed in India to provide special care and protection to the weak so that they can overcome their weaknesses and compete with the privileged or strong sections. But instead of caste-based reservation, the government should introduce more reservations based on economic status of a person.

References

www.wikipedia.com

www.legalserviceindia.com

www.clearias.com

www.theweek.in

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