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Shukre Panel on Maratha Quota

Context

  • The Panel under Justice Sunil B Shukre has found an “alarming” rise in the girl-child marriage rate within the Marathas, in response to the petitions challenging the 10 percent reservation granted to Marathas.

Background

  • The Maharashtra Assembly unanimously passed a Bill granting 10% reservation in education and government jobs to the Maratha community.
  • The law has been formulated based on a report of Justice Sunil B Shukre-led Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission.
  • It opined that “exceptional circumstances and extraordinary situations” justify granting reservation to the community beyond the Supreme Court-approved 50% limit.

Reservation in India

  • As per existing instructions, reservation is provided to Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), and Other Backward Classes (OBCs) at the rate of 15%,7.5%, and 27%, respectively, in the case of direct recruitment on an Indian basis by open competition.
  • In direct recruitment on an all-India basis, other than by open competition, the percentage fixed is 16.66% for SCs, 7.5% for STs, and 25.84% for OBCs.
  • The Constitution (103rd Amendment) Act 2019 enables the State (i.e., both the Central and State Governments) to provide reservations to the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) of the society.
  • Whether or not to provide reservation to the EWS or appointment in the States is to be decided by the State Government.
  • Since the 1992 order, several states have passed laws breaching the 50% ceiling, including Haryana, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra.
  • Laws made by many of these states have either stayed or are facing legal challenges.

Constitutional Provisions

  • Article 16: It provides for equality of opportunity for all citizens but as an exception, the State can provide for reservation of appointments or posts in favor of any backward class that is not adequately represented
    in the state services.
  • Article 16 (4A): Provides that the State can make any provision for reservation in matters of promotion in favor of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes if they are not adequately represented in the services under the State.
  • Article 335: It recognizes that special measures need to be adopted for considering the claims of SCs and STs to services and posts, to bring them at par.
  • 103 Amendment of the Constitution of India: Introduced 10% reservation for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) of society by amending Article 15 and Article 16 of the Constitution.

Arguments in Favour

  • Caste-based reservations address the roots of social injustice — and shouldn’t be replaced by economic status-based reservations.
  • The Constitution mandates the realization of substantive equality in the engagement of fundamental rights with the directive principles.
  • It is a stereotypical assumption that the promotions drawn from the SCs and STs are not efficient or that efficiency is reduced by appointing them.
  • The main reason for giving reservations and even promotions is that there are very few SC/ST candidates in the higher echelons of government.

Argument Against

  • Reservations discourage merit and genuine talent by providing an unfair advantage to reserved candidates.
  • Many deem poverty to be eligible for reservations in education and employment over caste-based marginalization.
  • Reservations should only exist to level the playing field initially; they should be discontinued for higher positions/promotions.
  • Economically well-off members of marginalized communities should not avail benefits of reservation.
  • Low cutoffs and eligibility criteria for reserved candidates bring down the overall caliber of an institution or organization.
  • Continued reservations in education and public service were only a temporary measure.

Way Ahead

  • Allocating quotas often results in more cases of discrimination and hard feelings toward other communities.
  • The purpose of reservation is not to isolate a particular section but to make them part of mainstream society.
  • The policy makers while dealing with sensitive matters like Reservation policies must act wisely.
Indira Sawhney Judgment

– The Indira Sawhney case is also known as the Mandal Commission case. In this case, the Supreme Court stated that:

a. Backward Classes of the Citizens of Article 16(4) can be identified based on caste and not only on the economic basis.

b. The Supreme Court upheld the Mandal Commission’s 27 percent quota for backward classes, as well as the principle that the combined scheduled caste, scheduled tribe, and backward-class beneficiaries should not exceed 50 percent of India’s population.

– The Reservation for backward classes should be confined to initial appointments only and not extend to promotions.

– State governments were called upon to identify the creamy layers amongst the backward classes and exclude them from the purview of reservation.

 

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