Wednesday, August 24, 2011

[ZESTCaste] Why hesitating on creamy layer for SC/ST quota, SC asks Centre

Why hesitating on creamy layer for SC/ST quota, SC asks Centre
August 23, 2011 11:12:28 PM

Pioneer News Service | New Delhi

The Supreme Court on Tuesday gave wings to a move aimed at reviewing
the list of those beneficiaries under Scheduled Castes and Scheduled
Tribes who have advanced socially over the years and do not require
the crutches of reservation anymore.

Hitting at the root of reservation politics, the Court issued notice
to the Centre on a PIL to know the reasons why the latter was
reluctant to exclude certain castes whose exclusion was recommended
for by two central panels formed in this regard in 1975 and 2008.

The Court relied on the findings of the two committees - Lokur
Committee (1975) headed by the then Union Law Secretary BN Lokur and
Justice Usha Mehra Commission Report (2008) to issue notice on a PIL
filed by advocate OP Shukla.

The extensively researched petition argued by senior advocate R
Venkatramani brought forth the concern of most deprived castes or
communities within the SC/ST who fail to get benefits due to the
"advanced" castes gathering the benefits of reservation. This not
defeated the purpose of equality sought to be achieved through
affirmative action but also made the scope of Article 341 and 342 (by
which SC/ST lists are drawn out) highly arbitrary and unequal, the
petition said.

Apart from the two Committees constituted by the Centre, the petition
cited similar exercises carried out by States to trim the SC/ST lists.
In 1990, the Haryana Government appointed Backward Classes Commission
under Justice Gurnam Singh, which concluded that the entire
reservation in the State was cornered by one particular caste. To
override this defect, the SC category in the State was bifurcated to
give assured reservation benefit to the poorest castes. However, this
recommendation was stayed by a High Court order.

Within a decade, the Andhra Pradesh Government too appointed a
Committee under Justice P Ramachandra Raju to study whether the
reservation benefits were equitably distributed. The report finally
yielded in a law seeking rationalisation of reservation.

Recently in 2007, the Bihar Government constituted a "Maha Dalit Ayog"
(Extremely Backward Scheduled Castes Commission) which recommended
exclusion of four castes namely Dhobi, Chamar, Dusad and Passi. But
due to protests and political pressure, all castes except Dusad had to
be re-inducted into the list.

The position became clear with the Central panel reports which went
deep into the malaise and did a statistical study based on
representation of castes in education, jobs and economic status.

The Lokur Committee recommended as follows, "In view of the weighty
views expressed above and in the interests of national integration, we
feel that the time has come when the question of de-scheduling of
relatively advanced communities should receive serious and urgent
consideration." Based on this criterion, it prepared a state-wise list
of castes and tribes to be removed from the ambit of beneficiaries.
This view was later reiterated by the Justice Usha Mehra Commission on
which no action was taken till date.


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