High Court order has come as a big blow to Rajasthan Government

Jaipur: The Rajasthan High Court on Friday struck down the 50 per cent reservation given to women candidates and youths in State municipal polls, calling it unconstitutional.

Chief Justice Jagdish Bhalla and Justice M.N. Bhandari in a landmark judgement held that the 50 per cent reservation for women candidates and those in the age group of 21 to 35 on certain earmarked seats is unconstitutional.

The order has come as a big blow to the State Government as it failed to apprise the court that the reservation for women is based on the proportionate population of theirs.

Further, it failed to apprise how the State was justified in fixing certain number of seats in the municipal elections of the State for the young candidates belonging to the age group of 21 to 35.

This final pronouncement came on a bunch of writ petitions challenging the reservation, as provided by way of amendment in the Rajasthan Municipality Act, claiming that the reservation of women has been raised from one-third to one-half of the total seats meant for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Backward Classes and even for open category.

The decision, though, will not have any bearing on the recent municipal elections in the State.

“Excessive”

It was contented before the court that the 50 per cent reservation for women is “excessive” and goes contrary to the mandate of Article 243 of the Constitution that provided that one-third of the total seats be reserved for women.

It was further contended that without ascertaining even proportionate population of women in the State, amendment has been made to provide reservation to them.

It was given out by the petitioners that on account of excessive reservation for women as well as young persons by putting an age ceiling, ordinary citizen has been deprived to contest election, which cannot be said to be in consonance with the spirit of the Constitution.

“The Constitution provides minimum reservation in favour of women candidates, that is one-third of the seats in the respective category.

There is no embargo in providing reservation in favour of women over and above provided in the Constitution,” said Chief Justice Bhalla while delivering the judgement on behalf of the Bench.

But the State Government failed to justify its action in enhancing the reservation. Therefore the court held that “respondents have not given proportionate population ratio to justify their action and to show that they have not provided excess reservation to the women”.

“If women are proportionately less than the population of men then reservation extended in favour of women can be maintained in proportion to the population ratio. In absence of such figures, we are constrained to give a specific opinion on the aforesaid issue,” the court said.

The court then observed, “We are of the view that if proportionate population of the women is less than the male then reservation of 50 per cent seats for women is excessive and, in that case, Article 14 of the Constitution is violated, hence, amended provisions, as challenged, deserve to be struck down being ultra vires.

The Bench also quashed the provision of youth reservation in the Municipal elections made by way of section 21A and held that no such reservation prescribing age can be made a ground of qualifying for an election to municipality from any particular seat which was proposed to be reserved for candidates having age between 21 and 35. -- PTI