With the Punjab and Haryana high court dismissing the writ petition challenging the special backward class (SBC) reservation to Jats and other castes, decks have been cleared for the Haryana government to notify the newly enacted law to grant 10% reservation to Jats and five other castes.
The quota bill was passed by the Haryana assembly a fortnight ago. The reservation comes into effect only after a formal notification in this regard is issued by the law secretary. Also, the state government’s move to grant immunity to quota law from judicial review will only be set in motion after the law gets notified.
SBC quota and new law
The HC had in July 2015 restrained the state government from giving any employment in government service and admission in educational institution on the basis of SBC quota granted by way of an executive order during the Congress rule. Following widespread quota violence in February, the Haryana assembly on March 29, 2016, passed the Haryana Backward Classes (Reservation in Services and Admission in Educational Institutions) Bill, 2016, to provide 10% reservation in government jobs and educational institutions to Jats and five other castes: Jat Sikhs, Bishnois, Rors, Tyagis and Muslim or Mulla Jats.
The bill was assented to by the governor on April 1. Since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJaP) regime replicated the SBC provisions while introducing a quota bill in the assembly, the government withdrew the SBC notification, stayed by the HC, thus rendering the writ petition in the HC infructuous.
A petition or application to the court becomes infructuous when the fundamental premise upon which the petition is based ceases to exist. On April 12, a HC bench of justice SS Saron and justice Gurmit Ram dismissed the petition.
Passage to ninth schedule
After being notified, the quota law will be sent to the Centre with a request to include it in the ninth schedule of the constitution to protect it from judicial review. In the event of the Centre concurring with the state government, it would introduce a constitution amendment bill in the Parliament to amend the schedule for inserting the Haryana quota law in it.
No blanket protection
However, even securing a law in the ninth schedule does not mean blanket protection from judicial review as has been held by the Supreme Court in IR Coelho v/s State of Tamil Nadu case. In its January-2007 order, a nine-member apex court bench said all amendments to the constitution made on or after April 24, 1973, by which the ninth schedule is amended by inclusion of various laws therein shall have to be tested on the touchstone of the basic or essential features of the constitution as reflected in Article 21 read with Article 14, Article 19, and the principles underlying them.