Monday, February 8, 2010

Can there be a positive discrimination on the basis of religion- "No" says AP High Court

Dear Friends,

This is the third time that the AP High Court has successfully upheld the Constitution of India, which our political class want to derail just to please their votebank. Such a move could have disastrous repercussions if such policy of pleasing the vote banks based on religion is allowed in a secular country like India. 

The imagination itself is so disastrous to the secular fabric of the Country. Tomorrow, it will be turn of other minorities to claim their share of reservation based on the percentage of number of citizen following a certain religion. This might lead to a a total failure of the family planning programmes in India because if that be so, each religion would try to outgrow the other religion to get their larger share!!

And what would happen to the "Right to Equality" that is the hallmark of our Consititution? Positive discriminations was permitted on the socio-economic status of certain categories of citizens to provide a level playing field to them to realise substantial equality, however only for a certain number of years. But the political class has continued this formula to please their constituencies, in fact even to the extent of promoting enmity and struggles in the citizenry to be included in the backward classes to avail reservation status (recent Gurjar agitation is a point). In 2009 we saw another amendment to Constitution of India by Indian Parliament to further extend the reservation for SC/ST by 10 years and I think the very basis of such continued reservations indicate two things:

(a) That the benefit of reservations have not reached the real needy due to lack of proper implementation, thus the divide between the poor and the rich continues to grow.
(b) And that this has outlived its utility and is becoming a tool of social divide and unrest hence should be stopped herewith.

Then what do we adopt to realise the constitutional dream of social equality & to reduce the economic disparties amongst its citizens? India is a strange country which has 5 richest people of the world and still the percentage of population living below poverty line is mind-boggling! Such an uneven distribution of resources is a challenge to the move from a socialist economy to a mixed economy while maintaining the Socialist character.

I think the answer doesn't lie in reservation any more. The crutches of reservation will not allow the real empowerment of people. Also the policy has failed to achieve its desired goals despite being continued for more than 60 years now (while originally it was meant only for 10-20 years!), is the testimony to the strength in the argument being proposed. 

It is the equal opportunity to  right to food and nutrition,  free & high quality education, health infrastructure and avenues of employment across the nation without any discrimination on basis of region, religion, gender or any other diversity is going to empower citizenry. Enabling environment is the answer, empowerment is the answer!

Here is the coverage on the Full Bench High Court Decision on the subject.

Subhash



Andhra High Court quashes quota for Muslims


The court ruled that reservation cannot be provided on the basis of religion
 
Published on 02/08/2010 - 12:29:33 PM


Hyderabad: The Andhra Pradesh High Court on Monday quashed a legislation providing four per cent reservation to Muslims in education and jobs, terming it unconstitutional. The state government has decided to challenge the verdict in the Supreme Court.

Delivering the much-awaited judgment, the seven-member constitutional bench headed by Chief Justice AR Dave ruled that reservation cannot be provided on the basis of religion, reports IANS.

It was a majority judgment. Five judges, including Dave, opposed the reservation while two differed with their opinion.

The court verdict has come as a big blow to the Congress government, which had brought the legislation in 2007 providing four per cent reservation to certain backward groups among Muslims.

Some individuals and organisations had challenged the Act, contending that the reservations were unconstitutional. This is the third time since 2004 that the High Court has quashed quota for Muslims.

Ramakrishna Reddy, Counsel of one of the petitioners, told reporters that the court upheld their argument that the survey conducted by the state backward classes commission to identify backward groups among Muslims was not scientific.

The bench observed that the survey on the socio-economic conditions of Muslims was conducted only in six districts and that the backward classes commission relied only on the report of the Krishnan Commission appointed by the government.

Immediately after the High Court verdict, the government decided to file an appeal in the Supreme Court. Chief Minister K Rosaiah directed the state Advocate General to file a Special Leave Petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court.

In 2004, then Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy had provided five per cent reservation to Muslims but the High Court had quashed the order.

On the court's advice, the government reconstituted the backward classes commission. Based on its recommendations, the government issued an ordinance in 2005 and subsequently the Assembly passed the legislation for five per cent reservation.

But the High Court set aside the legislation saying that its would exceed the 50 per cent total reservation limit set by the Supreme Court.

In an attempt to keep the reservations within the 50 per cent limit, the government issued an order in 2007 providing four per cent quota in government jobs and educational institutions for 15 socially and educationally backward classes among Muslims.

The government brought an ordinance, which was later replaced by a legislation passed by the Assembly.

The four per cent quota was also challenged in the High Court. The petitioners argued that the government identified backward classes without gathering scientific data.

The High Court, in its interim order, permitted admissions made under the quota. This was challenged in the Supreme Court. The apex court stayed the implementation of the order but left it to the High Court to dispose off the batch of writ petitions.

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