The Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admissions), Act, 2006 providing for 27 per cent reservation for OBCs in elite institutions, including Indian Institutes of Management and Indian Institutes of Technology, came in for attack before a Constitution bench from the anti-quota petitioners, who said it would perpetuate the caste system and destroy equality.
During arguments on the petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the Act, senior counsel Harish Salve submitted that the removal of the caste system is the duty of the State under Article 14 (right to equality) since it came in the way of creating an egalitarian society.
The state should act in a manner so as to weaken and ultimately eliminate the caste system and achieve a casteless and classless society, Salve submitted before a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan.
Salve alleged that caste-based reservation has been usurped by the economically advanced sections of the backward societies and those in real need of it were left out.
He wondered how the government could go ahead with the OBC quota in Central educational institutions without identifying the target beneficiaries. .
"Article 15(4) is designed to give relief to a particular class of citizens which is socially and educationally backward. It is the government's job to find that class and identify individuals… Identifying backwardness is the heart and soul of Article 15(4). The government must determine certain factors to state that it is a socially and educationally backward class in the Constitutional sense," Salve said.