The 10-day stand-off between Gujjars and Rajasthan government ended on Thursday after the state government announced it would bring two laws — providing 5 per cent reservation to Gujjars in the Special Backward Classes category and another 14 per cent reservation for the Economically Backward Classes among the upper castes.
With that, the Gujjar community called off its agitation that had disrupted rail and road traffic on the crucial Delhi-Mumbai route for over a week.
“This is the first time that we feel our struggle has reached a stage where we are convinced we will get justice,” Gujjar leader Kirori Singh Bainsla said.
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“We apologise to everyone for all the inconvenience caused,” he added.
Senior minister Rajendra Rathore said the government would recommend the inclusion of the new laws under Schedule IX of the Constitution.
“The government has reiterated its commitment…about bringing a new law providing for 5 per cent SBC reservation (to Gujjars),” he said, adding that the draft of the two laws would be approved by the cabinet soon and the laws would be passed in the coming session of the state assembly. However, Rathore did not dwell upon the possibility of the new law being challenged in the courts.
Over the last two days, several sources from within the Gujjar community had hinted that the government’s olive branch — of a new law under Schedule IX — would be a safe bet since it would be free from judicial scrutiny.
However, Schedule IX — inserted in the Constitution by way of the first amendment in 1952 — was immune from judicial scrutiny only till 2007, when the Supreme Court made judicial review applicable to it.
In the I R Coelho v State of Tamil Nadu, the Supreme Court had said laws that threatened to violate the basic structure of the Constitution would be open to judicial review.
In 2008 too, the government had tried to put in place the same scheme of reservations — 5 per cent for Gujjars under SBCs, and 14 per cent for EBCs among the upper castes — taking the total quota in the state to 68 per cent.
While in 2008, the government had brought one law for both aspects, this time there are two separate laws on the anvil.
In 2013, the Rajasthan High Court had stayed the arrangement observing “more than 50 per cent reservation without any valid justification is unconstitutional”.