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Understanding Sub-Classification in Caste-Based Reservation



  Mar 13, 2024

Understanding Sub-Classification in Caste-Based Reservations


 
 What is sub-classification in caste-based reservations?

Sub-classification in caste-based reservations refers to the division of existing reserved categories, like Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST), into further categories based on varying degrees of backwardness or discrimination. This aims to ensure a more equitable distribution of reservation benefits among different sub-groups within these broad categories, addressing the concern that some groups are more marginalized than others.

 Why is the Supreme Court of India considering sub-classification?

The Supreme Court of India is deliberating on sub-classification to rectify inequalities within the SC and ST groups. Despite being under the same reserved category, there are significant disparities in the socio-economic conditions of sub-groups. The court's decision could redefine how reservations are implemented, ensuring that the benefits reach the most disadvantaged.

 What led to the consideration of sub-classification?

The consideration stems from observations that within the broad categories of SC and ST, some sub-groups have not benefited equally from reservation policies. The issue gained prominence with the case of State of Punjab vs Davinder Singh, focusing on whether state governments have the authority to create such sub-classifications for more targeted affirmative action.

 How does sub-classification affect caste-based reservations?

If approved, sub-classification could lead to a more nuanced and equitable approach to reservations. It would allow for specific measures that target the most backward sub-groups within the SC and ST categories, potentially reducing disparities within these communities. However, it also requires careful consideration to ensure it doesn't lead to further division or exclusion.

 What are the potential benefits and challenges of sub-classification?

Benefits:
- More equitable distribution of reservation benefits.
- Greater inclusion of the most disadvantaged sub-groups.
- Reduction in disparities within reserved categories.

Challenges:
- Determining the criteria for sub-classification could be complex.
- Risk of increasing divisions within already marginalized communities.
- Implementation challenges at the state level, given the variations in backwardness among states.

 Conclusion

The Supreme Court's decision on sub-classification in caste-based reservations holds the potential to make affirmative action in India more inclusive and effective. By acknowledging the diversity within SC and ST communities, the legal framework for reservations can evolve to address the nuances .

  Key Verdicts Influencing Sub-Classification in Caste-Based Reservations

 State of Punjab vs Davinder Singh

This case prompts the Supreme Court to assess if states have the authority to create sub-classifications within the SC and ST reservations for public employment. It arises from a Punjab government circular aiming to allocate specific portions of SC reservations to the most backward among them, like Balmikis and Mazhabi Sikhs. The verdict is awaited and could significantly impact the framework of affirmative action, potentially allowing for a more nuanced approach to address intra-group disparities.

 E.V. Chinnaiah vs State of Andhra Pradesh (2004)

A pivotal judgment where the Supreme Court invalidated the Andhra Pradesh law that classified SCs into four sub-categories for reservation purposes. The Court held that such sub-classification by states is unconstitutional as Article 341 of the Constitution mandates that only Parliament can modify the list of SCs. This verdict emphasized the central government's sole authority in determining the composition of SC lists, questioning the states' ability to enact sub-classification within reservations.

 Indra Sawhney vs Union of India (1992)

The landmark verdict by a nine-judge bench that upheld the constitutional validity of the Mandal Commission recommendations, which introduced the concept of OBC reservations in government jobs. The Court acknowledged the necessity of sub-classifications within the OBCs to prevent the more advanced groups from monopolizing the reservation benefits. This judgment laid the groundwork for considering intra-group variances and the principle of equitable distribution within broad reservation categories.

 State Of Kerala & Anr vs N.M. Thomas & Ors (1975)

This judgment expanded the understanding of reservations and equality under the Constitution. The Supreme Court recognized the government's power and duty to ensure substantive equality through reservations. The case underscored the constitutional mandate to correct historical injustices and provide reservations not as an exception to the equality principle but as an instrument to achieve real substantive equality.

 K.C. Vasanth Kumar & Another vs State Of Karnataka (1985)

In this case, Justice Chinnappa Reddy's ruling supported the idea of creating classifications within backward classes to ensure that the benefits of reservations reach the most backward among them. It provided judicial backing for the notion that more nuanced approaches to affirmative action are necessary to prevent monopolization of benefits by the relatively advanced within the backward classes.

 Conclusion

These verdicts collectively navigate the complex terrain of caste-based reservations in India. From questioning the states' power in sub-classification to recognizing the need for nuanced approaches within affirmative action policies, the Supreme Court's jurisprudence reflects an evolving understanding of equality and justice within the framework of Indian society. The upcoming verdict in State of Punjab vs Davinder Singh is poised to add another layer to this intricate legal landscape.


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