Thiruvananthapuram: The reservation for backward sections among forward communities may not be possible in Kerala following the recent Supreme Court order.
The State government, however, is of the opinion that the apex court order may not prevent it from implementing the decision to extend reservation for Christians in the Nadar community.
The first Pinarayi Vijayan government had in February approved the extension of OBC (Other Backward Class) reservation to Nadar Christians, based on the recommendations of the State Commission for Backward Classes. The government, earlier in October, had decided to implement reservation for economically backward sections among the general category.
The Nadar Christians have been included in the existing separate three per cent reservation for backward classes, and hence it won’t change the reservation percentile. The government, however, has not issued a gazette notification to implement the reservation.
The government is of the view that the May 5 Supreme Court order, capping the reservation at 50 per cent, will come in the way of implementing its decision to extend reservation to the poor among forward castes.
Kerala has not yet issued a gazette notification, listing out the forward communities eligible for reservation. The State may not issue the notification after the apex court order, thereby indefinitely delaying the reservation for economically backward sections among forward communities.
Apex court order sparks new crisis
The Supreme Court quashing the Maratha quota will lead to new crises both at the Centre and Kerala.
The apex court order, capping the total reservation at 50%, has raised a question mark over the existing Central and State reservations for the eligible sections among forward communities. The second question will be over the order repealing the states’ right to determine the backward classes.
The Supreme Court had rejected the Centre’s arguments in both the issues even as it accepted the amendments.
Quota for unreserved category
The State decided to implement a 10 per cent quota for economically backward sections among forward communities in government jobs and educational institutions based on the Central government’s 103rd amendment of the Constitution, passed in Parliament in January 2019.
The amendment was to provide 10 per cent reservation in government jobs and educational institutions for the economically weaker section in the unreserved category.
At least 29 petitions, challenging the 103rd amendment, are before the Supreme Court. SNDP Yogam and Minority Indians Planning and Vigilance Commission Trust are the petitioners from Kerala. Considering the seriousness of the petitions, the apex court had forwarded them for the consideration of the Constitution Bench. Additionally, petitions against the quota system in Kerala are before the High Court.
While introducing the 103rd amendment, the Central government had argued that the 50 per cent reservation was meant only for those from backward classes. Backward and extremely backward classes are included in Tamil Nadu’s 69 per cent reservation, and its Act was included in the ninth schedule of the Constitution to avoid the intervention of courts.
The Supreme Court is yet to pass its judgment on petitions challenging the Act. The apex court, however, had earlier judged that the ninth schedule could be brought under legal scrutiny.
Who will prepare the list?
The National Commission for Backward Classes was made a Constitutional body through the 102nd amendment of the Constitution in August 2018. Additionally, the right to determine the socially and educationally backward classes was taken away from the states. Currently, only the president has the right to declare any community/class as backward, and the right to amend the list rests with the Indian Parliament.
The Centre has not accepted the opposition’s argument that it had taken away the states’ right to determine the backward class. The minister for social welfare and parliamentary select committee maintained that the states have not lost the right. The Attorney General argued in the Supreme Court that the president’s right rests only with the ‘Central list.’
The five-judge Supreme Court Bench, while capping the reservation at 50 per cent, ordered that there should not be a Central-State list division. There will only be a Constitutional list, which the President will prepare. Immediate steps should be initiated to prepare the list, and until then the existing list will continue.