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Reservation in Education System in India

What does Reservation Mean:

Reservation is an act of withholding certain things for being enjoyed by the particular person/community and no other person/community has the right to enjoy the reserved thing.

The Rationale for Reservation:

The reason for incorporating the provision of reservation in the constitution of India was to promote social justice i.e. there shall be no discrimination against any person on grounds of backwardness and equal opportunity shall be provided to every person. The constitution framers never intended to include the provisions of reservation for the elimination of poverty.

Is the Right to Education a fundamental right?

Right to Education was not a part of fundamental rights till 1992. It was a part of directive principles of state policy under Article 45 which provides:
The State shall endeavor to provide, within ten years from the commencement of this Constitution, for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years.

In 1992, interestingly it was not the parliament which makes Right to Education a fundamental right but the Honorable Supreme Court in the landmark 'Capitation fee case' (Miss Mohini Jain vs State Of Karnataka And Ors,1992) held that Right to Education is a fundamental right under Article 21.

It took nearly a decade after this judgment for the parliament to bring the amendment in the constitution for incorporating 'Right to Education' as a fundamental right. This was done by the 86th amendment,2002. Following changes were made by this amendment in the constitution :

Inclusion of Article 21-A, It makes it mandatory for the states to provide education to the children between the age of six to fourteen years by appropriate law.

Amendment in Article 45, So that it be read as follows:

The State shall endeavor to provide early childhood care and education for all children until they complete the age of six years.'

Inclusion of Clause (k) in Article 51-A which cast a fundamental duty on the parent or guardian to provide opportunities for education of child/ward between the age of six to fourteen years.
Sadly this amendment was enforced after 8 years of its enactment, in the year 2010. But in my view, this amendment was really enforced after the enactment of Right to Education Act, however in a negligent manner. So, in the present scenario right to education is a fundamental right.

Reservation in Educational Institutions:

In the original constitution, there was not any express provision for the reservation of seats in educational institutions. Governments used the dictum of the directive principles of state policy for the formulation of reservation policies for educational institutions.

Reservation in Educational Institutions can be segregated in the following manner:

In 1951 Madras government order (G.O.) apportioning seats between various castes according to their numerical strength for admission into Government medical and engineering colleges in a prescribed ratio, was struck down by apex court for violating Article 15(1) of the Constitution (State of Madras vs. Champakaran Dorairajan,1951).

To overturn this decision clause (4) was inserted in Article 15 in the constitution by the 1st amendment in 1951 which enables the state for making any special provision for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes. Thereafter reservations were made in educational institutions including the reservations in private educational institutions by invoking this clause.

Honorable Supreme court in Indira Sawhney v. Union of India, 1993 famously known as 'Mandal Case' capped the reservation limits up to 50% of total seats and for reservations for backward classes concept of the creamy layer was introduced. Howsoever court permitted the reservations beyond 50% for the people living in far-flung areas.

Till 2003 Reservations were made by governments in private educational institutions. But in 2003 Honorable supreme court in T.M. Pai Foundation v. Union of India held that the state cannot make the reservation of seats in admissions in privately run educational institutions.

This position was reiterated by the court in 2005 in P.A. Inamdar v. State of Maharashtra. To overturn these decisions, Parliament in 2005 added clause (5) in Article 15 by the 93rd amendment. This clause enables the states to make any special provision, by law, for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes in so far as such special provisions relate to their admission to educational institutions including private educational institutions, whether aided or unaided by the State, other than the minority educational institutions referred to in clause (1) of Article 30. The validity of this amendment was upheld by the honorable Supreme Court in Ashok Kumar Thakur v. Union of India.

Reservations for the persons with benchmark disabilities are made mandatory through Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 (Section 32) for the educational institutions receiving aid from the governments. This Reservation shall be a minimum of 5% of total seats.

Till 2019, Social and Educational backwardness was the sole criterion for the reservations. But by 103rd amendment states were enabled to make reservations for the economically weaker section of the society. This reservation will be additional 10% to the existing reservations i.e. 50% (as stated by supreme court in 'MANDAL' case) + 10% = 60% of the total seats. The petition challenging this amendment is pending before the Honorable Supreme Court.

We have to understand two facts clearly that:
All the provisions in the constitution are merely enabling provisions and governments are not bound to make reservations.

It is not the Caste which is the basis of reservation but it is the backwardness of the class which forms the basis of reservation.

Conclusion
Despite being the limit of 50% quota in reservations provided by the honorable supreme court, Various state governments have made reservations exceeding this limit for the political gains. Haryana in 2016 passed a bill that created reservations for the Jats and five other groups by including them in a new category called backward classes.

This move was stayed by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana in November 2018, the Maharashtra assembly unanimously passed a bill that provided for 16 percent reservation in higher education and public services to the Maratha community. But similar reservation provided to the community in 2014 was stayed by the Bombay High Court, pointing to reservations exceeding 50 percent.

Recently In 2019, Madhya Pradesh Government passed an ordinance to increase the cumulative quota to 63%. A petition is pending before the High Court of Madhya Pradesh.

Position of the reservation quota will be more clear after the verdict of honorable Supreme Court in the petition pending before it assailing increased reservation for the economically weaker sections.

While Concluding this Article here I am Providing the details of reservation quotas in premier Institutions like IIT's and IIM's.
General – Economic Weaker Sections (GEN-EWS) 10%
Other Backward Classes (OBC-NCL) 27%
Scheduled Caste (SC) 15%
Scheduled Tribes (ST) 7.5%
Benchmark Persons with Disabilities (PWD) 5%

End-Note:
  1. https://neye1603.blogspot.com

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