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SC to examine validity of extending political reservation

  • Published
    21st Sep, 2023
Context

After the five-judge bench started hearing the plea to examine the validity of the Constitution (104th Amendment) Act, 2019  under which petitioners raised question on can Parliament use its constituent powers to repeatedly amend Article 334 of the Constitution to extend the reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies.

Background
  • The British Prime Minister Ramsay Macdonald presented the “Communal Award” in 1933.
  • This instituted the reservation system that is presently still in effect.
  • Following independence, the leaders of the country instituted the reservation system, which was initially only applicable to members of the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs).
  • Leaders the Anglo-Indian community, Scheduled Classes, and Scheduled Tribes were granted legislative quotas of seats under Article 334 of the Indian Constitution from 1950 to 1960 i.e. for ten years.
  • The period of reservation was increased by subsequent acts;
  • 45th CAA 1980 – Extended seats up to 26th January 1990,
  • 62nd CAA – Extension of Reservation of seats up to 26th January 2000,
  • 79th CAA – Extended the Reservation of seats up to 26th January 2010, and
  • 95th CAA – Extended the Reservation of seats up to 26th January 2020.

About 104TH Amendment of the Constitution

  • Article 334 of the Constitution provided for reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs), and a special representation of the Anglo-Indian community by nomination in the Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies for 10 years.

The term Anglo Indian is related to a person who is an Indian native but whose father or any other male progenitors in the male line are or were of European descent.

It originates from the East India company’s policy of encouragement of local marriages.

  • The 104th Amendment also introduced a freeze on the delimitation of constituencies.
  • This freeze effectively means that the number of seats allocated to each state and union territory for SCs and STs remains unchanged until the year 2031.
  • After the five-judge bench started hearing the plea to examine the validity of the Constitution (104th Amendment) Act, 2019 on November 2022.

Delimitation is the process of redrawing constituency boundaries based on population changes.

Recent move:

  • Article 334 was amended to extend the period of reservation in the legislature for SCs and Scheduled Tribes from seventy to eighty years i.e. for ten years till 26th January 2030.
  • Special representation and provision for Anglo-Indian reservation in Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies were deleted.

About the argument of Petitioners:

  • It was extended after every 10 years by a constitutional amendment.
  • The constitutional amendments repeatedly extending periods of reservation violated the basic structure of the Constitution.

The Central government’s say:

  • The amendment aimed to continue affirmative action and representation for SCs and STs in India's political institutions.
  • It recognizes the historical disadvantages and underrepresentation faced by these marginalized communities and seeks to address these issues through reserved seats.
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