SC/ST benefits can be claimed ONLY in one State: Supreme Court
Polity & Governance
12th Jan, 2022
The Supreme Court recently said a person declared as Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe in one state cannot claim benefit of his status for employment, education or land allotment in any other state on migration.
- A bench of Justices M R Shah and A S Bopanna dismissed an appeal filed by Bhadar Ram through his legal representative against a Rajasthan High Court's division bench order of April 7, 2011.
- The HC declared a sale transaction in respect of land belonging to a landless SC person was in clear breach or in violation of Section 42 of the Rajasthan Tenancy Act, 1955.
Key-takeaways from Supreme Court’s Judgment
- Being a Scheduled Caste belonging to Punjab and being an ordinarily and permanent resident of Punjab, cannot claim the benefit of a Scheduled Caste in the state of Rajasthan for the purpose of purchase of land allotted to a landless Scheduled Caste person.
- A person belonging to Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe in relation to his original state of which he is permanent or an ordinarily resident cannot be deemed to be so in relation to any other state on his migration to that state for the purpose of employment, education etc.
- The top court's judgement in 'Action Committee on Issue of Caste Certificate to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the State of Maharashtra and Another' (1994) would apply with full force in the present case.
Who are Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs)?
Caste is something that is determined by the birth of an individual. According to D.N. Mazumdar
– ‘Caste is a closed class’ i.e. class refers to people based on property, business, occupation i.e. one cannot change his own caste system but can change the class system and can be a member of many classes at the same time.
Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) are among the most disadvantaged socio-economic groups in India.
- Scheduled castes are sub-communities within the framework of the Hindu caste system who have historically faced deprivation, oppression, and extreme social isolation in India on account of their perceived ‘low status’.
- The 2011 Census places the number of scheduled castes in India at 16.6 percent of the total population, or approximately 166,635,700 people.
SC in Varna system
- Scheduled caste communities were considered avarna, or outside the existing varna system.
- They were considered to be a section of people in Hindu society who are not from the four major varnas, i.e.,
- The Hindu four-tier caste system, or varna system, forced these communities into work that predominantly involved sanitation, disposal of animal carcasses, cleaning of excreta, and other tasks that involved contact with “unclean” materials.
- Scheduled Tribes are classified as marginalised communities on the basis of geographical isolation.
- Primitiveness, geographical isolation, shyness and social, educational & economic backwardness due to these reasons are the traits that distinguish Scheduled Tribe communities of our country from other communities.
- There are over 700 Scheduled Tribes in India according to The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes.
Constitutional Provision for SC/STs:
- The President may with respect to any State or Union Territory and where it is a State after consultation with the Governor thereof, by public notification specify the castes, races or tribes or parts of or groups within castes, races or tribes which shall for the purposes of this Constitution be deemed to be Scheduled Castes in relation to that State or Union Territory.
- Parliament may by law include in or exclude from the list of Scheduled Castes specified in a notification issued under clause of any caste, race or tribe or part of or group within any caste, race or tribe, but save as aforesaid a notification issued under the said clause shall not be varied by any subsequent notification.
- The President may with respect to any State or Union Territory and where it is a State, after consultation with the Governor thereof by public notification, specify the tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within tribes or tribal communities which shall for the purpose of this Constitution be deemed to be Scheduled Tribes in relation to that State or Union Territory.
- Parliament may by law include in or exclude from the list of Scheduled Tribes specified in a notification issued under clause (1) any tribe or tribal community or part of or group within any tribe or tribal community but save as aforesaid a notification issued under 'the said clause shall not be varied by any subsequent notification.
Constitutional Provisions Related to Reservation in Indian Constitution:
- Article 15(4)-Special Provision for Advancement of Backward Classes: It was added by the Constitution (1st Amendment) Act, 1951, as a result of the decision in State of Madras v. Champakam Dorairajan case in which the Madras Government had reserved seats in State Medical and Engineering colleges for different communities in various proportions on the basis of religion, caste and race.
- Article 16(3)-Reservation of Posts in Public Employment on the Basis of Residence: Article 16(3) is an exception to clause 2 of Article 16 which forbids discrimination on the ground of residence.
- Article 16(4)-Reservation for Backward Classes in Public Employment: Article 16(4) is the second exception to the general rule embodied in Articles 16(1) and (2). It empowers the state to make special provision for the reservation in appointments of posts in favor of any backward class of citizens which in the opinion of the State are not adequately represented in the services under the State.
- Indra Sawhney vs. Union of India – The Mandal Case: In the landmark Mandal case, Article 16(4-A) (through 77th Amendment) and Article 16(4-B) (through 81st Amendment) inserted into the constitution:
- Clause 4-A: According to clause 4-A, nothing in this Article shall prevent the state from making any provision for reservation in matters of promotion to any class or classes of posts in the service of state in favour of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes which in the opinion of the State, are not adequately represented in the services under the State.”
- Clause 4-B: Clause 4-B seeks to end the 50% ceiling on the reservation for SCs/STs and BCs in backlog vacancies which could not be filled up in the previous years due to the non- availability of eligible candidates.