Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Supreme Court dismisses plea seeking directions to Centre to fix time limit for ending caste-based reservation in education

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The Supreme Court on Friday declined to hear a plea filed by Dr Subhash Vijayran seeking directions to the Centre to fix time limits for expiry of caste-based reservation in education. A bench of Justices L. Nageswara Rao and S. Ravindra Bhat dismissed the plea as withdrawn. 

The plea said, “Since the 1950s, SCs/STs are being provided reservations in education. The OBCs followed suit in 2008. Compared to the pre-reservation era when people strived to gain the forward tag; today, people fight and spill blood for the backward tag. Now, we have well-off doctors, lawyers, engineers, who flaunt their backward tag to gain admissions in PG courses via reservations. Even the Institutions of National Importance (INIs) like AIIMS, NLUs, IITs, IIMs, etc. are not spared. Every year 50% of their very scarce seats are sacrificed on the altar of reservations. For how long will this continue?”

It said, “If left to the Parliament, caste-based reservations are indeed for eternity. As rightly said by HMJ Dalveer Bhandari in Ashok Kumar Thakur: [(2008) 6 SCC, pg. 698]:

“601. In our context, one need not look past the Parliament’s affinity with extending time limits on the reservation to see that only the judiciary can put a stop to the caste-based reservation. … … History has shown that it is not politically feasible for the Parliament to say “no” to reservation – especially when caste is involved.”

In Ashok Kumar Thakur, the majority of the Hon’ble Justices were of the view that review as to the need for continuance of reservation in education should be made at the end of 5 years. [(2008) 6 SCC; Page 718, Para 671]

It has been 13 years since the Judgment. No such review has been done to date. Left to the government – no such review would ever be done. Not in a thousand years.”

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The plea further stated, that Affirmative action by way of caste-based reservations is desirable only up to a certain limit and time, beyond which it backfires and harms national interests apart from causing reverse discrimination. Our nation cannot be forced to carry the burden of caste-based reservations for eternity – for it would not only stagnant its growth but also divide our society permanently on caste lines.

“It is common knowledge that reservations often do not reach those for whom they are actually intended. Rather, they are grabbed by the elite among the reserved class. Today we have children of well-off and highly qualified doctors, lawyers, engineers, who flaunt their caste certificate and get admission through reservations. Is this the face of equality that we had aspired for?” it added. 

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