States decide on reservation policy: Centre to SC

The response by the Union government was filed after the top court had in August issued notice to it on a PIL filed by advocate G S Mani for a direction to Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to implement 10% quota in job and education for economically weaker sections of the society as per the mandate of the 103 rd Constitutional (Amendment) Act, 2019. (Credit: Reuters)

The Union government on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that it has got no role in deciding the reservation policy of a state government, though the 103 rd Constitution Amendment Act passed by Parliament enabled both the state and the Centre to provide quota to the economically weaker sections of the society in jobs and education.

“Whether or not to provide reservation to the economically weaker sections (EWS) of the society for appointment in state government jobs and for admission to state government educational institutions, as per provisions of newly inserted Articles 15(6) and 16(6) of the Constitution, is to be decided by the concerned state government,” it said.

In an affidavit, the department of social justice and empowerment pointed out it was felt necessary that a constitutional amendment be brought in to promote social equality by providing opportunities in higher education and employment to those who have been excluded by virtue of their economic status.

Accordingly, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment introduced a bill which was passed by Lok Sabha on January 8, 2019, and Rajya Sabha on January 9, 2019. The President gave his assent to it on January 12, 2019. The new Act was notified by the Law Ministry as the Constitution (One Hundred and Third Amendment) Act, 2019.

The response by the Union government was filed after the top court had in August issued notice to it on a PIL filed by advocate G S Mani for a direction to Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to implement 10% quota in job and education for economically weaker sections of the society as per the mandate of the 103 rd Constitutional (Amendment) Act, 2019.

In his PIL, the petitioner contended of all the states, neither Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have implemented nor enforced the Constitutional Amendment Act, 2019 till date. In Tamil Nadu, he said, all the political parties were opposed to it.

The Amendment Act “prescribes a maximum limit of 10% reservation to EWS is in addition to the existing reservation to SC/ST/BC/OBC/MBC or any other category. Therefore, it nowhere affects or infringes anybody’s fundamental rights of equality, rather it gives rights of equal participation and representation to the Economically Weaker Section of unreserved category people namely unreserved Muslims, Christians and Unreserved General Category People,” his plea stated.

The rights of reservation for the economically weaker section under 103rd Constitutional Amendment under Article 15 (6) and 16 (6) in Part-III of the Constitution was not only a constitutional right but also a fundamental right, he contended.

Mani said the ceiling of 50% vertical reservation for SC, ST and Other Backward Classes was a suggestion and discussion and not a mandatory direction by the top court in judgement in the cases of Indra Sawhney, M Nagaraj and D K Krishnamurthy.

That was obiter dicta which did not have binding value over the legislative power of Parliament and States Assembly exercised through a Constitutional Amendment, he said.

The top court had on July 31 reserved its orders if a batch of PILs challenging validity of 10% quota for the economically weaker section should be referred to the Constitution bench for adjudication.

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