RAM VILAS Paswan, Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, says reservation is a constitutional right and nobody can end it. He spoke to The Indian Express on the recent ruling of the Supreme Court and the demand for the creation of an Indian Judicial Service.
What is your view on SC’s recent ruling that states are not bound to provide reservation in government jobs and that quota is not a fundamental right?
Reservation is a Constitutional right and nobody can end it. Whenever the matter of the reservation came in the Parliament, all the parties supported it. The latest example is the meeting of the SC and ST MPs that took place at my residence; about 70 MPs participated in it. The meeting was attended by not just the members of the BJP and its allies but also by the members of other parties such as the Congress, the DMK and Shiv Sena as well. All the MPs were very angry as to why the SC had said that reservation is not a fundamental right. Given the fact that Article 16(4) of the Constitution has a provision for reservations.
Reservation in promotion is available for the SC and ST only but the reservation in government jobs is now available to the SC, ST, OBC and the weaker sections of the upper castes. But the SC has said both things; first, if the state wants it can give reservation or it can choose otherwise; second, that reservation is not a fundamental right. If the reservation is not a fundamental right then what is Article 16(4)?
Isn’t Article 16(4) an enabling provision?
When it is only enabling reservation they how can upper caste get a reservation? When there is an SC ruling that reservation cannot go beyond 50% then how it reached up to 60% ? At the time of the Mandal Commission, there was a proposal to give 10% reservation on the basis of the economic criteria but the SC rejected it saying there is no provision in the Constitution for it. But this time it became a reality because the NDA government amended the Constitution first. So, reservation is already a fundamental right. How can you say that it’s not? Second, when a 9-member Bench in the Mandal Commission case said that reservation is a Constitutional provision they how can a 2-member Bench say that it is not Constitutional?
What is the way out?
All MPs, who attended the meeting, were of the view that either the government should bring an ordinance or enact a law as done in case of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Whether a Constitutional amendment or a separate law is required, it should take all the necessary steps. Our party is also contemplating filing a petition seeking a review of the recent SC ruling… No one can end the reservation. Yah patthar ki lakir hai (it’s indelible). Now it has been extended to the poor sections of the upper castes also. So, now no one can end the reservation.
Do you see any reason behind the SC making such observations?
All the MPs, who attended the meeting, demanded reservation in judiciary and creation of the Indian Judicial Service (IJS) because whenever a matter related to the weaker sections goes to the Court, it gets stuck.
Will the govt accept the demand for IJS?
The Centre has given a positive reply about IJS in the Parliament. The government is seriously considering the proposal.
So, you want IJS with reservation?
Article 312 of the Constitution provides for the creation of an all-India Judicial Service. It should be on the line of the Indian Administrative Service and the Indian Police Service and the selection process of the IJS should be transparent and through a competitive examination with proper reservation.
Do you support the creation of IJS?
I support it on two counts. First, because the present system of collegium lacks transparency. Second, it will have representation from all sections of society.
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