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From social justice to total injustice in India

The Preamble of our Constitution reads: ?We the People of India? and to secure to all its citizens Justice, Liberty, Equality of Status and Opportunity?? Article 16 (1) of the Constitution proclaims ?There shall be equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the State?.

india Updated: May 08, 2006 00:54 IST
Mahesh Chandra Dwivedi
Mahesh Chandra Dwivedi

The Preamble of our Constitution reads: “We the People of India… and to secure to all its citizens Justice, Liberty, Equality of Status and Opportunity…”
Article 16 (1) of the Constitution proclaims “There shall be equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the State”.

Then Article 16 (4) makes enabling provision for the state to make reservations in favour of any backward class of citizens. If these two provisions are read together, it can be rightly inferred that the provision of reservations can be only for those who are so much socially or economically discriminated as to make them incapable of securing government jobs despite their best efforts. It is not for those who have not been denied means and circumstances to compete with others, but deliberately prefer politics or other careers instead of working hard to compete for government jobs.

However, the history of reservations create a belief that the Indian State would never want or be able to provide equality of opportunity to all its citizens—particularly upper castes Hindus. Even the rulings of the Supreme Court to bring sanity in the race of political parties in one–up-manship in providing more and more reservations in more and more fields to more and more castes and religions are being got nullified through Acts of Parliament and state legislatures.

Let us glance through the developments of the last 56 years in the field of reservations. Generally speaking during 1950-1990 reservation in initial appointment as well as in promotions were provided to SCs/ STs only, of course, there were some states, which provided reservation in jobs to backward castes and women also to a limited extent.

The rule was that the reservation to SCs/STs be limited to 22.5% (which was their population percentage) of the total vacancies in any recruitment. However in order to appease SCs/STs this was outdone by making 100% appointments of SC/STs in special recruitments in the name of filling backlog. Further in many states this backlog was counted not on the basis of unfilled vacancies in the previous recruitments, but as the gap between 22.5% of total jobs and the percentage of existing SC/ST employees. Filling of backlog on this basis was against the very spirit of equal opportunity as it deprived candidates of other castes completely from entering into the government service during those recruitments.

During 1950-1990 such candidates as qualified among others on merit were included in the 22.5% quota. This had a rationale that SCs/STs did not have a right to grab through reservation more jobs than the percentage of their population.

Subsequently the candidates of reserved category, who competed among the general category, were excluded from the reserved quota. This resulted in a situation where SC/ ST and backward class candidates started getting selected even beyond their population percentage, which cannot be the intention of a Constitution proclaiming equality of opportunity for all its citizens.

During the seventies through a Government Order one dependant of such government servants as died during harness was assured of an employment without competition. This reservation not only violated the principle of equality but also was heavily biased against those who never got an employment in the government.

After Mandalisation of the country OBCs were also provided reservation in employment. But since the Honourable Supreme Court had fixed a cap of 50% in reservations, OBCs could get only 27.5% seats reserved as per rule. However, this limit arising due to Honourable Supreme Court’s ruling was repeatedly crossed by many states and when the Supreme Court stayed the appointments made on the basis of reservations beyond 50% legislation was passed to nullify those rulings.

The Supreme Court had debarred the ‘creamy layer’ among backward classes from the benefits of reservation. Here the states tried to outdo the Supreme Court by defining ‘creamy layer’ in such a fashion that even millionaires could not be included in it. In the year 2002 new rules were issued in UP which made any junior reserved category employee promoted before his seniors, permanently senior to his left out seniors. Since the benefit of reservation in promotions is given at each stage of promotion, this rule effectively meant that only reserved category employees could reach the top echelons in any department.

Reservation for women is a long-standing demand of all parties. Its implementation has been delayed only because certain parties insist on quota for backward castes within the quota for women. Now the Central Government is hell bent to provide reservations to OBCs in all such educational courses, which make procurement of job easy. Further, it is burning midnight oil to provide reservations in private jobs also.

Generally who enjoys the benefits of reservations? Among SCs/ STs the main beneficiaries are the sons and daughters of those government servants who had themselves got government jobs due to reservation and later became senior officers due to reservation in promotions. To be specific, most of the reserved category jobs are cornered by Jatavs among SCs and Meenas among STs.
Among OBCs land-wise, money-wise, muscle-wise and vote-wise strong castes like Jats, Yadavas, and Kurmis are almost exclusive beneficiaries of the reservations. So far no political party has ever displayed courage to speak of exclusion of any caste or tribe from the reserved category. Instead, inclusion of newer castes on imaginary or fake data are order of the day. Inclusion of Jats among OBCs in UP and UP government’s recent order to declare 12 OBC castes as scheduled castes are burning examples.
(The writer is a retired Director General of Police)

First Published: May 08, 2006 00:54 IST