Bihar judiciary quota: Many reservations on this, merit on the backburner
Appointments to the judiciary should be made only on merit as the consequences of taking in unsuitable candidates to fill reservation quotas can dilute standards in an institution which requires rigoureditorials Updated: Dec 28, 2016 22:18 IST
It is always the easy way out – introducing reservations to various institutions as a substitute for creating a genuinely level playing field in these.The latest is the Bihar government which has decided to introduce a 50% job quota for scheduled castes (SC), scheduled tribes and backward classes in the superior as well as subordinate judiciary. The state cabinet has cleared this with immediate effect in consultation with the Patna high court and the Bihar Public Service Commission (BPSC). Earlier, there was no provision for reservation in the appointment of judges to the superior judicial service. But, the subordinate judicial service, under which munsif magistrates are recruited, had 27% seats reserved for the scheduled castes (SC), scheduled tribes (ST) and most backward classes (MBC). As per the new rules, 21% seats will be reserved for extremely backward castes (EBCs), 12% for backward castes (BCs), 16% for SCs and 1% for ST candidates.
The state government has also made provisions for vertical reservation for women (35%) and physically challenged persons (1%). In principle, affirmative action is needed in a country of vast inequities like India. But they are meant only to give a disadvantaged section a leg up. Earlier, it may be recalled there was a move to bring more Dalits into the judiciary. Clearly, that was driven by votebank politics and mercifully this did not take off. In Bihar too, the priority should be to give the SCs and STs, as well as other needy groups, access to affordable quality education. Appointments to the judiciary should be made only on merit as the consequences of taking in unsuitable candidates to fill reservation quotas can be detrimental and will dilute standards in an institution which requires rigour and excellence. By their very nature, reservations are a political tool meant to appease various communities and castes. The earlier premise of reservation being a temporary, empowering measure has transformed into an entitlement today. A globalising India has to be driven only by merit. Quotas in perpetuity will do nothing to add value to crucial institutions like the judiciary. Today, we see a situation in which different vested interest groups are able to hold governments and political parties to ransom with their unreasonable demands for reservation. The main aim of any government should be to enable people to compete fair and square for jobs, not create a dependency syndrome. The judiciary in India is still an institution which commands respect across the board. Bringing in reservations like the Bihar government is doing makes it that much easier for politics to enter through the backdoor under guise of helping the disadvantaged.