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Mainstream, VOL LVII No 27 New Delhi June 22, 2019

Distortion of the Constitution

Monday 24 June 2019

by P.B. Sawant

The BJP and its Parivar have never accepted our Constitution and have always been seeking a new Constitution whose objectives are exactly opposite to those of the present one and there is no secret about it. The party has always been of, for and by the advanced classes. Consistent with its policy and almost on the eve of the general elections of 2019, it amended the present Constitution and introduced reservations exclusively for the advanced classes by allotting a ten per cent quota in educational institutions and employment. Unfortunately, other political parties have acquiesced without realising its implications.

This reservation is patently against the very purpose of the reservations kept in the present Constitution for the backward classes. The intention of the Constitution-makers in keeping reservations for the SCs, STs and OBCs was to bring these classes to the level of the advance classes in order to ensure equality which runs through the length and breadth of the Constitution. However, the present amendment, giving reservation to the economically backward in the advanced classes to the exclusion of the SCs, STs and OBCs, is exactly contrary to the said intention. The amendment ignores the fact that the reservation is kept for the classes and not for the individuals. The exclusion of the creamy layer from the backward classes also ensures that the reservations are not meant for only few individuals or families, but the entire class. These classes are those which are primarily, socially and educationally backward.

The reservation there is not for the economically backward. If economic backwardness is the test of backwardness, then in this country no less than 85 per cent of the people will be entitled to the reservations. That is why the framers of the Constitution did not keep reservations on the ground of economic backwardness. The back-ward classes are also economically backward, but that is because they are socially and educationally backward. If there are economically backward sections in the advanced classes, they are so in spite of their advance socially and educationally. If those among the advanced classes are also to be provided reservations because their income is less than the income of the creamy layers in the backward classes, then it results in retaining and perpetuating the present inequality in society. It results in equating the advanced classes and the backward classes, below the income of the creamy layers. The unenviable consequence is the nullification of the very purpose of reservations for the backward classes, by the backdoor. That will be per se violative of the Constitution.

Secondly, the advanced classes have already more than proportionate and adequate share both in education and employment. There is not a single reason therefore for keeping reservations for them either in education or employment. On the contrary it will be violative of the Constitution on that ground also.

Thirdly, “economically backward class” is a separate class created by the Amendment. There is no reason why those in the SC, ST and OBC categories below the creamy layer, when they do not get seats in their quota, should not be entitled to seats in the newly created EBC class. But the Amendment denies them the seats in that class for no valid reason. The unstated ground to exclude them appears to be that they are already provided with the reserved quota. But that quota is to mitigate their backwardness. What about the traditional quota of 100 per cent and now the general or open category seats where the advance classes score over the backward classes, income notwithstanding? It must always be remembered in this connection that the backward classes together constitute no less than 85 per cent of the population, whose talent remains to be tapped till this day. That is a tremendous continuing loss to the nation for centuries.

Justice P.B. Sawant is a former judge of the Supreme Court of India. He is also an erstwhile Chairman of the Press Council of India.

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