27 Jan 2010

Reservation for economic backward permissible: High Court

In a recent decision the Kerala High Court has upheld the policy of the Government to provide for reservation on the grounds of economic backwardness of citizens. It was argued before the High Court that "The Constitution does not empower or enable the Governments to take away the benefits which would otherwise be available for socially and educationally backward classes and dole them out to the members of the forward communities. This is nothing but appeasement of the forward communities which constitute majority of the population. Majority of the aided and unaided educational institutions in the State are under the control of the forward communities and Christians. Students belonging to Muslim community, (which is admittedly a socially and educationally backward segment) are unable to get admission in those institutions. Therefore the decision of the Government to reserve 10% of the seats at the graduate and post graduate level in Government colleges and 7.5% of seats in the various Departments under the Universities will amount to violation of the constitutional obligation cast on the Government to give adequate protection to the under privileged communities in the State."

The High Court, however, was not impressed. It was quick to set aside the challenge to the reservation, declaring the law to such regard as under;
While students belonging to socially and educationally backward communities and Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes enjoy the benefit of reservation in the matter of admission to educational institutions, many of those who belong to forward communities most often fail to get admission only because they do not enjoy any benefit of reservation. These students are considered for admission only on the basis of merit. Number of seats available under merit quota will be comparatively less after allocation of seats under the reserved quota to various categories. Many of those students, especially those who are not economically affluent and who fall under the so called below poverty line are faced with the gloomy prospect of discontinuing their studies since they cannot afford to go to private institutions which demand heavy tuition fees. The attempt of the Government appears to be only to ameliorate the grievance of this class of students who, fortunately or unfortunately, belong to forward communities.
On the status of backwardness in the country and the requirement to provide for such people, the Court emphatically observed;
9. Backwardness, be it social, educational, economic etc. is a malady that our Republic inherited from the British Colonial rule. There is no denying the fact that the overall socio economic scenario in the country has improved after independence, quite drastically. The yeomen services rendered by our social reformers of the yester years have yielded dramatic results, though it has been a slow process. This does not mean that the social evils that beset the less fortunate segments of the society have been eradicated. But still, the general standards of living of the down trodden communities have improved by leaps and bounds. The castes and communities which suffered oppression and discriminatory treatment of despicable proportions, in the yester years have now started to enjoy almost equal status in all walks of life, though some communities in some parts of the country, are still being treated shabbily.
10. Communal reservation is a sweet phraseology which has come to stay in the country ever since independence. The backward communities, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes etc. have enjoyed this benefit for the last more than six decades. It is true that the benefits extended by the Union and the States in the form of reservation, not only in education but in employment as well, has helped the less fortunate communities to a great extent to come up the social and economic ladder.
11. As mentioned earlier, the socio economic conditions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and educationally and socially backward classes have undergone a revolutionary change. Undoubtedly the above policy that is being followed, not only by the Union Government but by all the States in the Republic, is quite exemplary and laudable. But, in our view, time has now come to awaken these communities from the slumber of satiated insouciance. These communities must start to realise that over indulgence of the Government in extending these benefits will only stunt their growth.
12. Excellence in education and in professional fields can be achieved if only there is an element of competitiveness. It must be ensured by all concerned that members of these communities are made to compete with the best in the country. They must earn their admissions in educational institutions at least at the higher/post graduate level, after competing with meritorious students. In the matter of employment also it is high time that the quota of reservation is gradually brought down so that there is an element of competition in gaining employment. The higher the competition level, be it in education or employment, the greater will be the advantage to the people belonging to such backward communities.

1 comment:

Vijayalekshmi Omana said...

It is a good decision. But the question is what should be the method to bring down the reservation. What should be the measure and criteria? They are economically and socially developed. But do they really developed in mental capacity to grasp things on a higher level. That remains to be studied. Thanks to this post. I am owning a small site. I am your follower also. Keep going. I give you full support.