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Assembly passes Bill to enhance SC, ST quota after heated debate

  • Published
    27th Dec, 2022

The Karnataka Legislative Assembly has passed the Bill that increases the reservation of seats in educational institutions and jobs for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes unanimously.

Key Points:

  • The Bill purposes to increase reservations:
    • Scheduled Castes from 15 per cent to 17 per cent
    • Scheduled Tribes from 3 per cent to 7 per cent in the state
  • It will result in exceeding the 50 per cent ceiling on quota by 6 per cent, which is against the ceiling of 50 % by the Supreme Court in the 1992 Indra Sawhney case.
  • If the constitution is not amended to suit the increase in the reservation, the court could strike it off.
  • In the Bill passed by the Karnataka Assembly, the recommendation is to amend the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution accordingly.

Other demands:

  • Reservation in Private sectors and outsourced jobs: It was argued that the increase in reservations for the SC and ST would not benefit unless the reservation was implemented in the private sector too.
    • Reason: There is only 2 per cent of jobs in government offices and they are also decreasing due to disinvestment and privatization.

Why the need to include it in the Ninth Schedule?

  • The 56 per cent reservation breaches the 50 per cent ceiling set by the Supreme Court in the landmark 1992 Indra Sawhney v Union of India verdict.
  • However, placing legislation in the Ninth Schedule shields it from judicial scrutiny.

SC/ST Reservation:

  • Both the Centre and the states are permitted to make any special provision for the advancement of SCs and STs.
  • The quota in government jobs and educational institutions for SCs and STs is 15% and 7.5% respectively (a total of 22.5%).

Indra Sawhney case:

  • In the Indra Sawhney vs Union of India, popularly known as the Mandal Commission case, the Supreme Court ordered that total reservation should not exceed 50 per cent.
    • Critics believe that the 50 per cent ceiling is a constitutional requirement without which the structure of equality of opportunity would collapse.
  • Supreme Court’s recent judgment regarding flexibility on the 50% cap on the reservation:
    • The bill was cleared in the backdrop of a Supreme Court Constitution Bench’s majority ruling in the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) case that the 50% cap on the reservation was not sacrosanct.

About the Ninth Schedule:

  • The Ninth Schedule contains a list of central and state laws which cannot be challenged in court.
  • Currently, 284 such laws are shielded from judicial review.
  • Most of the laws protected under the Schedule concern agriculture/land issues.
  • It was created by the new Article 31B, which along with Article 31A was brought in by the government to protect laws related to agrarian reform and for abolishing the Zamindari system.
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