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HomeIndiaContinuation of reservation is ‘absolutely necessary’: Govt to SC

Continuation of reservation is ‘absolutely necessary’: Govt to SC

Favouring extension of the period of reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) in Lok Sabha and state Assemblies, the Centre on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that it will submit more material to strengthen its case.

“We want to add more material to strengthen the case of the government that continuation of reservation is absolutely necessary,” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told a five-judge Constitution bench, which took up the petitions challenging the Constitutional validity of the Constitution 104th (Amendment) Act.

The bench presided by Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud and bench also comprising Justices A S Bopanna, M M Sundresh, J B Pardiwala, and Manoj Misra fixed November 21 to hear the matter in detail.

Appearing for the petitioners, senior advocate Arayama Sundaram said the question is whether amendments to Article 334 of the Constitution, extending the period of reservation, are not subject to closer judicial review in view of the limited reservation policy enshrined in the original constitution.

It will also have to be examined whether objective and quantifiable data was present for such extension to save them from manifest arbitrariness and the requirements of Article 14, and whether it violates the basic structure doctrine by taking away judicial review of challenge to delimitation of constituencies or allotment of seats to SCs and STs.

“If Your Lordships say it can be continued and decide against us on the other issues, then another issue would arise whether distribution of the number of seats for SCs and STs without rotation is violative of Article 14, and whether the delimitation act is violative of Articles 81, 82 and 170 of the Constitution,” he said.

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The bench said it will look into the question of whether the Constitution (104th Amendment) Act, 2019, is “unconstitutional”.

Sundaram, however, said reservation is extended every 10 years, and, thus, if the court looks at only the 104th amendment, there may be a subsequent amendment Act and the question will arise whether that is valid.

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The bench then said it will also examine “whether the exercise of constituent powers of amendment to extend the period prescribed for expiration of the period of reservations under Article 334 of the Constitution is constitutionally valid”.

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With Sundaram stating that he was not challenging past amendments, the bench “clarified” that the second issue “shall not impinge on the legitimacy of the amendments to the constitution which were made prior to 104th amendment”.

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It said the “validity of the 104th amendment shall be determined to the extent it applies to SCs and STs only, since the reservation for Anglo-Indians in Article 334(B) has come to an end on the expiration of 70 years after adoption of the Constitution”.

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