Affirmative action not limited to reservation alone: SC

Affirmative action not limited to reservation alone: SC

PTI file photo

Tribune News Service
New Delhi, March 22 

Noting that affirmative action was not limited to reservation alone, the Supreme Court on Monday said states should take additional steps to promote education and establish institutions for uplifting socially and educationally backward classes (SEBS).

“Why can’t other things be done? Why not promote education and establish more institutes? Somewhere this matrix has to move beyond reservation. Affirmative action is not just reservation,” a five-judge Constitution Bench led by Justice Ashok Bhushan noted.

The Bench—which also comprised Justices L Nageswara Rao, S Abdul Nazeer, Hemant Gupta and S Ravindra Bhat—had on Friday sought to know if there was no limit to quota what would happen to the concept of equality. “What about the resultant inequality? How many generations will you continue?” it had asked.

On the sixth day of hearing to decide whether the nine-judge Bench verdict in the Indira Sawhney (Mandal) case which fixed 50 per cent ceiling for quota in government jobs and admission to educational institutions should be revisited in view of subsequent constitutional amendments, judgments and changed social dynamics, the top court said several other things could be done by the State for it.

On behalf of Jharkhand government, senior advocate Kapil Sibal said it involved various issues, including financial resources of the state, number of schools, teachers etc. The extent of reservation would differ from state to state depending on the population and thus, there cannot be a straight-jacketed formula, he submitted.

Senior advocate PS Patwalia, representing the Maharashtra government, said reservation was a burning issue. This was a huge social issue in the state, he added while referring to protests on the issue.

On Friday, the top court had wondered if no development had taken place in the country since Independence.

“Seventy years have passed since independence…states are carrying out so many beneficial schemes. Can we accept that no development has taken place and that no backward caste has moved forward?” it had asked.

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