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applicability of 50% reservation limit

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Governance
The Supreme Court order last week which quashed a January 2000 order of the erstwhile state of Andhra Pradesh providing 100% reservation to Scheduled Tribe (ST) candidates for the post of teachers in schools in the scheduled areas of the state is a reaffirmation of the 50% ceiling principle laid down by the court for reservations. A five-judge constitution bench held that providing 100% reservation is “unfair’’ and “unreasonable’’, “without rhyme and reason’’ and discriminatory because it denied employment opportunities to other candidates. - - - It also violated the 50% norm laid down by the court in the Indra Sawhney case.
 
Some states have cited special circumstances and extraordinary situations to go beyond the ceiling many times in the past. The court said that there was no extraordinary situation warranting the Governor’s decision. The state government had issued similar orders in 1986 and when they were struck down by the administrative tribunal, it reissued them in 2000. The court observed that the power to modify rules conferred on governments under Schedule V was not relevant in the case because the notification had the effect of creating a new law which went against fundamental rights and accepted provisions on reservations.
 
The judgement has implications that go beyond the Andhra Pradesh appointments and that makes it important. Despite the existing ruling in the Indra Sawhney case, many states and even the Centre have breached the 50% ceiling on various pretexts. - - - Demands have been made in other states for grant of reservation for groups which do not enjoy the benefit now. The latest judgement will hopefully bring more clarity to the issue.
 
For the full terxt of the editorial in the Deccan herald, click here.
 
This matter has come up repeatedly in many areas, and with a 5-judge Constitution bench coming up with this ruling, hopefully the executive will stop mis-using the reservation card. 
 
Muralidhar Rao
 
 

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