THE SUPREME Court on Wednesday questioned the Andhra Pradesh government’s decision of 1988 to provide 100% reservation to Scheduled Tribes for the post of teacher in Scheduled Areas, saying it would deprive other backward communities from availing reservation benefits and opined that allowing it may facilitate misuse.
‘What will Scheduled Castes and Other Backward Classes will do? They are also downtrodden. This is suffocating,’ said Justice Arun Mishra, heading a five-judge Constitution bench.
The bench also comprises of Justice Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, M R Shah and Aniruddha Bose.
The bench sought to know what was the data before the Governor on the basis of which the decision was made. ‘If this is allowed without data, it will not be far when politicians will start doing it for whosoever supports their ideology. There is no political will left to undo a wrong,’ Justice Mishra said as Senior Advocate R Venkataramani, appearing for the state, sought to defend the notification.Justice Saran said, ‘it’s presumed that ST is the only deprived group in that area’.He also asked ‘is there any data to say that no other group is deprived in that area?’
‘It closes the door for those who are qualified. They cannot even apply,’said Justice Saran.Subramani said ‘perhaps the Governor thought it is the most proximate way to achieve educational improvement of those areas’. He said that the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution dealing with administration of Scheduled Areas vests the Governor with legislative and administrative powers, which run seamlessly.
The counsel added that Scheduled Areas and STs were collective beneficiaries of the order and that it was’nt the intention to discriminate others.Venkataramani said ‘what was exceptional was subjective.’
‘Even if there was no data, maybe Governor looked at the Rules and felt it is not enough to improve the standard of education of these areas’, replied Venkataramani.
‘So you are saying his subjective satisfaction is enough,’ asked Justice Saran.
‘You can’t play with the Constitution like this. There has to be some data,’ stated Justice Mishra.Justice Saran further added that even the Constitution framers had not envisaged such a situation.The bench also sought to know what results have been achieved from the more than two decade old ‘experiment’.
‘You are providing 100% reservation to tribals in that area. Two decades have passed. This should have solved the problem. Have you been able to solve it?’ asked Justice Mishra as the counsel mentioned that most of these areas fell in the Maoist-hit Red Corridor.
The bench said the problem was that the benefits were not percolating to those really deserving it.