Legal Correspondent

Reservation means to integrate society disintegrated

  • No reduction in non-reserved seats
  • 93rd Amendment does not violate Constitution

    New Delhi: The Centre on Tuesday justified in the Supreme Court the Central Educational Institutions (Reservations in Admission) Act, 2006 providing for 27 per cent reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in higher education institutions, including seven Indian Institutes of Technology.

    In response to petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the law as well as the 93rd Constitution Amendment, under which it was enacted, the Centre said: "Reservation policy is not disintegrative and is not against the unity and integrity of the nation; on the contrary, reservation policy is a means of integrating society disintegrated over the centuries by the age-old caste system, and that policy thus strengthens the unity and integrity of the nation."

    The Centre said: "Reservation, whether in employment or in education, is not violative of the basic structure or equality code; choice of reservation is not inappropriate and is justified; there is nothing wrong or unconstitutional in specifying, in terms of units of castes, those who have been identified as Socially and Educationally Backward Classes on the basis of the criteria of social and educational backwardness; reservation is not anti-merit."

    On the allegation that there was no data to provide 27 per cent quota, the Centre said that "in the absence of caste data after 1931, there was no alternative to projecting the population proportion of SEdBC/OBC from the next best source, i.e. the latest available Census 1931; fault-finding in the database is an exercise of taking pot-shots and the methodology followed for identifying the various castes listed as SEdBC/OBC by the Government of India is valid."

    The Centre said: "It is denied that the implementation of the legislation will in any way affect the rights of the students belonging to non-reserved categories as the additional seats for OBCs being provided in the Central institutions are by no way a reduction in the available non-reserved seats."

    Justifying the reasons for not excluding the `creamy layer', the Centre said "it will be deleterious to the educational advancement of the castes/communities which are backward at present, if they are denied this natural advantage by excluding any section of them as `creamy layer' in education."

    On the reasons for bringing in the 93rd Constitution Amendment, the Centre denied that "the Amendment and the Act in any way alter the basic structure of the Constitution or that Parliament has overreached its powers under Article 368 in the said case. The Amendment is not only a valid and justified exercise of the amending power of Parliament but also does not, in any manner, violate the basic structure of the Constitution. Not providing for reservation for SC and ST and for SEdBC/OBC will be a violation of the basic structure of the Constitution."

    The allegation that the identification and listing of SEdBC/OBC was done without adequately ascertaining the existence of backwardness and inadequacy of opportunity/representation was baseless.

    "If the legitimate aspirations of these three classes for a due share in the avenues for advancement are not satisfactorily addressed, it would affect rule of law, law and order and the realisation of the country's full potential."