SC decision quashing ST reservation reflects Manuwadi mindset: Review petition
A review petition has been filed before the Supreme Court pleading that the court’s decision to quash Andhra Pradesh government’s order granting 100% reservation for Scheduled Tribe teachers in a scheduled area, be reviewed. The petition states that the judgement is liable to be reviewed since there are errors which are apparent on the face of the record. The petitioners state that the judgment reflects the ‘Manuwadi’ mindset of the so called upper castes towards the socially disadvantaged, that they must be kept suppressed.
The petitioners are social organisations representing the interests of Scheduled Tribes. These include Akhil Bharatiya Jan Jati Vikas Sangh, All India Federation of SC/ST Organizations and Baba Sahab Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar Vidya Peeth, as well as two other individuals, Mukul Choudhary who is a social activist working for protection of rights of weaker sections and Harnam Singh who is former chairman of the Delhi Commission for Safai Karamcharis.
The impugned judgment
The review petition, filed under Article 137 of the Indian Constitution, seeks review of the apex court judgment passed on April 22, 2020 by a 5-judge Constitution Bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra which had quashed a government order passed by erstwhile state government in 2000 which provided 100% reservation to the Scheduled Tribe candidates for the post of teachers in the schools in the scheduled areas. In the impugned judgment, the court had followed the dictum laid down in Indira Sawhney vs. Union of India as per which reservations would be constitutionally valid only as long as they do not go beyond 50%.
The judgment, inter alia, held, “By providing 100% reservation to the scheduled tribes has deprived the scheduled castes and other backward classes also of their due representation…it also impinges upon the right of open category and scheduled tribes who have settled in the area after 26th January 1950. The total percentage of reservation provided for scheduled tribes in the state is 6%. By providing 100 percent reservation in the scheduled area, the rights of the tribals, who are not residents of the scheduled areas, shall also be adversely affected.”
The review petition
The petitioners have raised a concern that the apex court’s judgment will throttle the ability of state governments to formulate beneficial policies for Tribal Communities in their seclusion in fit cases where forced integration may pose a risk to their identity and survival. They further state that the general rights of tribal communities in India will be compromised if the state cannot provide adequate reservation in appropriate cases, something likely to occur as a result of the judgment.
The petitioners state that the government notification was a step towards increasing literacy in Scheduled Areas and aimed at ensuring the availability of teachers in such Scheduled Areas. Thus, the Notification was based on intelligible differentia and the classification had a nexus with the object sought to be achieved. They further state that “The Non-obstante Clause in Schedule V makes every action taken under the said Schedule, immune from challenge under Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution”.
“The Hon’ble Court has shown complete apathy and lack of concern for the well-being of the Scheduled Tribes in the Scheduled Area,” says the petition. The petition, filed by KV Bharathi Upadhyaya and settled by Mehmood Pracha, also points out that the Central Government’s decision to add another 10% quota for the EWS to the existing 50% quota is also pending before the court and it should have been tagged along with the petitions in which this impugned judgment was given.
The petitioners contend that “the concept of creamy layer within the Scheduled Tribes/Castes, has been mischievously introduced by certain elements in Society who have a vested interest in depriving the Scheduled castes/tribes of the benefit of Reservation and also cause ill will and infighting amongst Schedule Castes/Tribes.”
Justifying the need for 100% reservation in scheduled areas, the petition states, “Seats from reserved quota that have not been filled, have not been carried forward, thereby continuing with the oppression of the oppressed over 70 years of independence. Thus, it would be just and equitable that a 100% reservation in proportion to the percentage in population across the board for a minimum period of 25 years is immediately directed to undo the wrong that has been meted out to the oppressed for centuries”.
Sabrang India Website