The Anathema of 100% Reservation is Unconstitutional: Case of Chebrolu Leela Prasad Rao v. State of
Authored By- Sonika Khandelwal
Recent demands for reservation by different communities in India has been a debatable topic for the authors and intellectuals. The ghost of reservation has started haunting Indian society like never before. So, the author here tries to put her opinions regarding reservation through analyzing the recent case of Chebrolu v. State of Andhra Pradesh.
“We must begin by acknowledging the fact that there is a complete absence of two things in Indian society. One is Equality and the other is fraternity” as stated by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar during constituent assembly debate. The demand for the provision to uplift the weaker section of society and bring them into the mainstream was also raised during the debate in the constitutional assembly. Considering the situation of India during independence when the society was divided religiously, culturally and economically the reservation was sought initially for ten years as a means of social emancipation, empowerment and to achieve equality enshrined in our preamble. But sadistically, seventy years down the line clamour for reservation continues and rather it has deepened since then. A tool for political vote bank, a topic of debate for intellectual, means of empowering the disadvantaged the system of reservation has been continuing.
Recent reason for debate
The ill effect of the reservation is again haunting the lawmakers and intellectuals in recent steps taken by the Andhra Pradesh governor, directing the post of the teacher in educational institutions in the scheduled areas reserved for the schedule tribes only. Now the questions arise a) Is 100% reservation permissible under the constitution? b) Does the order issued by the governor violate Right to Equality under Article 14? c) Does this type of reservation criteria go against the principle of merit-based opportunity?
As per the government the objective behind bringing 100% reservation are: a) To strengthen educational infrastructure. b) To promote educational development. C) To solve the phenomenal absenteeism of teachers. c) To protect the interest of local tribals.
Indra Sawhney Judgement:
In this famous case, Supreme Court emphasized that founding fathers never envisaged reservation of all seats and 50% shall be the rule. It is necessary not to put out of consideration certain extraordinary situations inherent in the great diversity of this country and the people. It might happen that in far-flung and remote areas the population inhabiting those areas might, on account of their being out of the mainstream of national life and in view of conditions peculiar to and characteristically to them, need to be treated in a different way, some relaxations in this strict rule may become imperative. In doing so, extreme caution is to be exercised and special case made out. In similar cases such as M. Nagaraj and Ors v. Union of India and orsIt was held that the ceiling limit of the reservation is 50% without which the structure of equality in Article 16 would collapse; In M. R. Balaji and Ors v State of Mysore and orstotal reservation in favour of disadvantaged section of the society could not exceed 50%. A similar judgment has been pronounced in R. Chitralekha v State of Mysore.
SC Judgement in the present case of Chebrolu:
It was least expected from the functionary like the government to act in the aforesaid manner as they were bound by the dictum laid down by this Court in Indra Sawhney and other decisions. There was no rhyme or reason with the state government to resort to 100% reservation.
Various constitutional provisions relevant to this case:
Article 14: Right to Equality before the law and equal protection of the laws. It also incorporates the doctrine of classification. This classification can be made out only on two criteria namely a) Intelligible differentiation that means based on the application of mind and b) it should have reasonable nexus with the object sought to be achieved.
Article 16(4): Nothing in this article shall prevent the state from making any provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class of citizens which in the opinion of the state is not adequately represented in the services under the state.
Article 335: The claims of the members of SC and ST shall be taken into consideration, consistently with the maintenance of efficiency of administration.
Article 342: After consultation with the governor the President of India may by public notification specify the tribes or tribal communities or part of or groups within tribes which shall for the purposes of this constitution be deemed to be ST in relation to that state.
Article 244: The provisions of the fifth schedule shall apply to the administration and control of the scheduled areas and scheduled tribes in any states other than the states of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.
Article 371(D): Special provision with respect to the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
Analysis of Chebrolu case:
The steps taken by the government is arbitrary, unfair, unreasonable and goes against the spirit of the right to equality. It’s a mockery of Supreme Court judgments. The merit-based principle in the selection of teachers can not be substituted by any other criteria like that done by the governor of AP. Our focus should be to connect the disadvantaged to the mainstream along with the aim of protecting their culture and not vice-versa. There are other ways to deal with the problem of absenteeism, as one of the reasons given by the government of their action, like attractive remuneration, residential facility, incentives and perks to teachers willing to work in scheduled and tribal areas.
We should not make reservations as a political weapon in the hands of leaders to serve their own ends. We should introspect whether the purpose for which reservation was introduced is really fulfilled. The air will be clearer on the objective of the reservation by referring to the debates in the constitutional assembly. Its high time to review the categorization of classes into SC, ST and OBC and finally should be eliminated. The social stigma attached to a surname needs to be ended by upholding the spirit of fraternity. At last, humanity is supreme and it should survive forever.
2. Introduction to the Constitution of India - D. D. Basu