Against excess: On Maratha quota

In striking down the separate reservation given to Maharashtra’s Maratha community, the Supreme Court has underscored the importance of adhering to the 50% limit on total reservation, as well as the need to justify any excess by showing the existence of exceptional circumstances. In a decision that will be quite unpalatable to mainstream parties, the Court has not only found no merit in the Maratha claim to backwardness but also said the community is adequately represented in public services. It is no surprise that the Maratha quota, given by Maharashtra through a 2018 law, did not survive judicial scrutiny by a Constitution Bench. The 16% quota in admissions to educational institutions and jobs in public services — later brought down to 12% in admissions and 13% in jobs through a 2019 amendment — took the total reservation in the State beyond the 50% ceiling imposed by earlier verdicts. The five-Judge Bench has held that the State has not shown any exceptional circumstance to justify
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Sudden death: On IPL 2021

The Indian Premier League’s suspension effective from Tuesday was an inevitable full stop considering India’s continuing trauma with COVID-19 and the breach of the tournament’s much-vaunted bio-bubble. Until the emergence of the COVID-positive results of Kolkata Knight Riders’ Sandeep Warrier and Varun Chakravarthy; Sunrisers Hyderabad’s Wriddhiman Saha; Delhi Capitals’ Amit Mishra, Chennai Super Kings’ bowling coach L. Balaji and a member of the squad’s logistics staff, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) was in denial-mode, firmly believing that its bio-bubble protocols cannot be breached. BCCI officials also insisted that the league is not a super-spreader like election rallies or other permitted activities where crowds were allowed to assemble. That both fans and the media were kept away from the venues was cited as an example of how strict the IPL management was with regard to social-distancing. Besides this, the constant testing of everyone in the bubble was seen as
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DMK returns: On Tamil Nadu Assembly poll results

Some elections are decided on key issues, some on the incumbent’s performance, and others on alliance arithmetic and local factors. The outcome of the Tamil Nadu Assembly election, in which the DMK emerged triumphant and its leader, M.K. Stalin, is set to be sworn in as Chief Minister, seems to be an unequal mix of all these. The DMK’s comeback was a foregone conclusion after the alliance led by it scored a landslide victory in the 2019 Lok Sabha election, and a third successive term for the AIADMK was unlikely. Mr. Stalin has been rewarded for his patience. He has led the party successfully for the second time after the demise of M. Karunanidhi, his father and the party’s towering figure for over four decades. The DMK rode mainly on a popular desire for change, to win 133 seats on its own, including some secured by allies who contested on the DMK symbol. The front ended up with 159 seats. The Congress’s performance is more impressive, as it won 18 of the 25 seats allotted to it. The


Keeping Left: On Kerala Assembly election results

The spectacular victory of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) in the Kerala Assembly election has put the spotlight on its lead author, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. His resolute leadership style and daring political experiments found resounding approval among the State’s electorate that re-elected an incumbent government for the first time in four decades. With this historic victory, Mr. Vijayan has further reinforced his already unassailable status as the supreme leader of the CPI(M) and the LDF. At 75, his challenge now will be to use his authority to transform the party so that its current dynamism outlasts his position in command. By replacing several old warhorses with fresh faces in the polls, he has already set the ball in motion. A transition in the CPI(M) — and the LDF — is under way and this will also be reflected in the choice of new Ministers. K.N. Balagopal, P. Rajeev and M.B. Rajesh could make the cut. Administrative challenges will be immense for the government,


A transient high: On GST inflows

India’s GST regime could not have hoped for a better start to its fifth year. Revenues from the tax hit an all-time high of ₹1,41,384 crore in April, surpassing the previous month’s record of about ₹1.24 lakh crore. After a disastrous period for the economy following last year’s national lockdown, GST revenues hit ₹1.05 lakh crore in October and have shown a steady uptick since then, in tandem with hopes of a sustained recovery. April’s numbers, which are essentially driven by the transactions in March, were bolstered by heightened economic activity, no doubt. The spectre of rising COVID-19 cases and the fear of an impending lockdown could also have driven people to make advance purchases in anticipation. Moreover, firms in the process of closing annual accounts may have remitted higher GST based on audit advice, while a gradual tightening of the compliance regime, and pro-active co-ordinated probes against taxpayers using fake bills to evade liabilities, have played no small part. In

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