Argument on behalf of the Union of India (Respondent)
As the bill talks about the reservation, I would like to define what it actually means according to the Indian Constitution. Article 15 (4) says “Nothing in [article 15] or in clause (2) of article 29 shall prevent the State from making any special provision for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens of or for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes” and Article 46 “Promotion of educational and economic interests of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other weaker sections The State shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people, and, in particular, of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation”. Therefore, state can make laws for any backward class whether socially, educationally or economically for their special treatment in case they are not adequately got the representation in the public employment and educational institutions whether aided or unaided by the state.
The present bill makes the provision for economically backward class in the society to avail the benefit of 10 percent reservation in the educational institutions including private institutions and in the public employment.
The question in fact that the Supreme Court in the M. Nagaraj vs Union of India stated that the reservation cannot exceed 50% limit. The bill does not exceed the 50% caste based reservation that includes SCs, STs and OBCs. The bill gives 10% reservation to the other general category that has been left out of any kind of reservation. The judgement allows for upto 50% reservation for the caste based reservation and not the economic backward classes (EBCs). States like Rajasthan which have 68% reservation and Tamil Nadu which have 69% reservation do have a reservation more than 50% capping set up by the Supreme Court as the social demography of this state’s forced them to have a higher percentage of reservation. The social and economic demography of any state decides the kind of special treatment or benefit it should give to its residents or citizens. The Supreme Court cannot have a rigid structure for every state as it depends upon many socio-economic factors.
At present the economically backward class or economic minority does not have any kind of reservation or special privilege like the socially or educationally minorities get, due to their financial incapability this class does not have adequate representation in the services and institutions. The Supreme Court cannot take the rigid view regarding the limit of reservation as the Socio-Economic condition changes with time in the any society, the main argument in favour of reservation was that the classes which did not have adequate representation in the services and institutions should be given a chance to have that and that was made possible through reserving their seats. Given the present condition of the Indian Economic structure, there are about 55 million i.e. 44% of the population have their annual income less than 8 lakh per annum which is a huge number and this people lack their representation in the services due to their economic minority. If we take into account the number of taxpayers in India, there are only 4.37 Cr files for the income tax and out of which only 76 lakh have income above 5 lakh according to the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. The country with the population of 1.21 Cr and only 76 lakh have their income more than 5 lakh rupees raises the huge question on income disparity. The number is huge and many of them who does not belong to the social or educational backward classes does not have any kind of privilege or special provision. By providing the 10% economic reservation which can be benefitted by anyone other than minorities under article 30 of the Indian Constitution.
The sole caste based reservation has created many social hurdles between upper caste and lower caste. The caste based reservation has kind of developed hatred among the Unreserved and Reserved category which have ultimately widen the gap of social integration among different class of the society. The main objective of the reservation policy was to uplift the backward classes and shorten this demographic gap which has not been achieved till date but has failed miserably. The caste based reservation have actually divided the society more than any other thing. The polity of this country is such that more and more caste just want to get the status of either SC or ST or OBC.
Income based reservation will help the rural-urban population of India. The real india still lives in the villages and the number is pretty much high. The rural India is basically poor and consists of marginalised farmers which do not have any high income source; the income based reservation will greatly benefit this section of the population. They will get an opportunity to have study in good university and can have their representation in the services which the income based reservation provides them. Even the urban poor need assistance and special affirmative action programs will be able to ensure their continued upliftment.
Lets us take an example of the recent Patel or Patidar movement which demanded the reservation. The Patels or Patidars of Gujarat who are an economically and politically dominant community. Given that the Patels have worldwide presence as entrepreneurs and NRIs, it seems ironical that they are demanding caste based reservation for their community. Movements or demand like this is not only from one section, many general or unreserved category classes are demanding the same thing; which can to a great extent be solved by the income based reservation.
The existing reservation policy has been failed which was proposed to solve the socially backward stigma in the society, the policy which was only carved for the initial 10 years but has still gone on till now has not solved that problem. Despite solving the social issues it has now created more distinction between the social class of this country. We have seen many act of atrocity and hatred between different parts of the country that how the backward classes been harassed and beaten up by the upper caste because they get the benefit of the reservation. Vote bank politics sustained the system rather than genuine consideration for the poor and oppressed in society. The caste based reservation system has failed to include the people at the lower end of mainstream society and economy.
The non poor who do not get any kind of reservation benefit only divides the caste which can be overcome by the income-based reservation.
With the new socio-economic situation we have take into consideration the income status of an individual and not only his or her social backwardness. If a poor man does not have any means to give education to his children’s due to his financial condition also hampers his Fundamental Rights which are the basic rights of individuals in the country like India. The widening gap between poor and rich force or compel us to give poor the benefit of reservation to the poor unreserved category which can be ensured by the Income- based reservation.