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Rajasthan’s Gujjar quota faces a legal challenge

Topics Covered:

  1. Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

 

Rajasthan’s Gujjar quota faces a legal challenge

 

What to study?

  • For Prelims: Highlights of the Bill, 9th
  • For Mains: Significance and concerns associated with the reservations, solutions to the problem of reservation.

 

Context:  The Supreme Court has refused to entertain a plea challenging the grant of 5% quota to Gujjars and four other castes in jobs and educational institutions in Rajasthan through an amendment in February.

SC has dismissed the appeal against a Rajsthan High Court order refusing to grant interim relief on the petition challenging the quota to Gujjars and others, treating them as socially and economically backward classes.

 

What’s the issue?

  • Rajasthan government has proposed to give 5% reservation to Gujjars and four other nomadic communities in jobs and education in Rajasthan, citing them as being an “extremely backward class”.
  • However, the PIL argues that this law breached the 50% ceiling on reservation. The PIL had also cited the proportion of Gujjars’ population as per the last Census instead of referring to the quantifiable data of backwardness in education and public employment.

 

Rajasthan Backward Classes Amendment Bill, 2019:

  • The Rajasthan government has passed the Rajasthan Backward Classes (Reservation of Seats in Educational Institutes in the State and of Appointments and Posts in Services under the State) Amendment Bill, 2019.
  • The bill seeks to provide 5% reservation to Gujjars, Banjaras, Gadia Lohars, Raikas and Gadaria. At present, the communities are provided 1% reservation under More Backward Classes (MBC).
  • The bill has increased the OBC reservation in Rajasthan from the present 21% to 26%. It has also increased the income limit for defining creamy layer in OBC from Rs. 2.5 lakh to Rs. 8 lakh/annum.
  • The Rajasthan government has also passed a resolution requesting the Centre to include the bill in Schedule IX of the Indian Constitution. This is because Rajasthan has breached the 50% cap on reservations set by the Supreme Court.

 

What is Ninth schedule all about?

A law enacted and included in the Ninth Schedule gets protection under Article 31-B (validation of certain Acts and Regulations) and is not subject to judicial review. However, in 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that all laws including those in the Ninth Schedule would be open to judicial review if they violated the basic structure of the constitution.

 

What are the concerns?

  • Multiple commissions appointed by State governments have recommended the implementation of the 5% quota on the basis of the community’s “extreme” or “most” backward nature.
  • But the lack of adequate data in the absence of a proper socio-economic caste census to prove this has led to the policy’s undoing in judicial orders.
  • Also, the repeated agitations reveal the shortfall in adequate, gainful and secure job opportunities in States such as Rajasthan.

 

Sources: the hindu.